ORGANIZATIONAL MODELS FOR STATEWIDE COMPREHENSIVE1 VIRTUAL SCHOOLS
According to Keeping Pace with K-12 Online Learning:
12 states have state-led online education programs and significant state policies that govern district-level online programs or
12 states have state-led programs but no significant state-level policies that govern district-level online programs or
14 states have significant state-level policies that govern district-level online programs or cyberschools but no state-led
12 states have neither a state-led program nor state policies.
OPTION DESCRIPTION POSSIBLE UNDER
#1: Comprehensive State-Led program
Operates under the Most programs are supplemental, not comprehensive No
State Board; or Most serve high school students
Other state Most work with local schools who grant credit and award diplomas.
entity/board; or Examples include Florida Virtual School, Illinois Virtual High School,
State Dept. of Ed Michigan Virtual School, and Idaho Digital Learning Academy.
May be state-run or operated through a Non-Governmental Organization
May be fee driven, funded through separate appropriation, or combination
Benefits: economies of scale; reduction in duplicative resources and
expense; ability to take advantage of agency offices and services.
Disadvantages: restrictions such as state procurement policies; need to vet
decisions through potentially lengthy procedure;
Accountability measures vary but often include accreditation of courses
and outside evaluation. Washington programs must be accredited by the
state and submit an annual report. Pennsylvania cyber schools are
authorized by their department of education, and has created a cyber
charter review entity.
Funding for both state-led and state initiatives are typically funded by
state appropriations that are independent of the number of course
registrations and often charge course fees.
Teachers are employed by state on full or part-time basis. Florida has over
300 full-time and 175 part-time teachers.
California has a state-led program, the University of California College
1Some states do not have comprehensive, solely online schools, including Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia,
Maryland, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Hawaii.
Prep that offers AP courses and has a focus of preparing students for
States with some sort of state-led governance include Alabama, Arkansas,
California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky,
Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, North Dakota, Utah, Virginia, West
#2: State-Led Initiatives
State Agency Operated State-led initiatives vary, but generally provide courses, resources, and Yes
services to districts rather than students directly.
Generally do not use a single source for the courses. May license or
develop programs, or both.
Many are supplementary only.
May provide teachers, part-time or full-time.
Generally do not award diplomas.
Examples include the Oregon Virtual School District and Alabama’s
Alabama ACCESS program provides access to instruction and coursework
by providing approved Internet-based courses and the technical
infrastructure to deliver courses via the internet.
South Dakota, in 2006, created a state-led virtual high school program
using a consortium of approved statewide distance education providers.
The school will not grant diplomas or credit, is fee-based, with rules
proposed by an advisory counsel, overseen by dept. of education.
#3: Cross-State Initiatives
Some New England states have joined together to use Virtual High School, Maybe; would depend
a collaborative of nearly 400 high schools in 29 states and 20 countries. on the model used.
The VHS cooperative operates by having each member school agree to Would need to comply
release one of its teachers for one period a day to teach a VHS online with Oregon law.
course. In exchange, the school is able to register its students in any VHS
In Connecticut, the six ESDs have partnered to provide VHS membership
to schools at reduced rates and have grown VHS membership to nearly
25% of all CT schools.
Virtual High School is supplemental.
#4: District-sponsored charter school that may operate statewide
Washington has this governance structure, though it has “alternative Yes; up to 50% of
schools” not “charter schools.” Programs must be accredited by the state, nonresident students.
submit an annual report that provide enrollment data; each student must May go above 50% level
have a learning plan, and communication between teacher and student with board waiver
must occur at least weekly.
Montana requires either the online teacher or local facilitator to be state
licensed and facilitators to have some distance learning training. It
requires distance-learning providers to register with the state and provide
program and course descriptions. Programs need to demonstrate that
students have “ongoing contact” with the online teacher, and programs
must verify teacher credentials to the state.
Pennsylvania has this structure, but has placed a moratorium on using it
#5: District-sponsored charter school; may only draw students from own district and contiguous counties
California has this model; schools may operate statewide if run by the Possible, but multiple
state board. waivers would be
waiver from open
and 50% limit on out-of-
#6: State Consortium programs
In New York, a consortium of more than 20 Board of Cooperative Yes, wouldn’t be a
Educational Services, individual school districts and education agencies charter school, but an
have created Project Accelerate and AccelerateU which provides online agreement among
courses, professional development and instructional support. districts.
University of North Carolina – Greensboro, established I-School
relationships with various high schools, creating agreements providing for
the granting of high school and college credit.
Oregon Online is a consortium of several districts providing online