Utah Turned The 10 Elements of Digital Learning Now Into A High Quality State Policy And So Can You!

Session 6: Friday, November 11 from 11:30am - 12:30pm
Robyn Bagley,Board Chair,Parents for Choice in Education
DeLaina Tonks,Open High School of Utah
Tom Vander Ark,CEO,Open Education Solutions
Michael Horn,Executive Director,Innosight Institute
Senator Howard Stephenson,Senator,Utah State Legislature
Representative Brad Daw,Representative,Utah State Legislature


Session Information


  • Location: 304/305 (Click Here to View the Session Map)
  • Track: Advocacy
  • Grade Level Focus: 6-8|9-12
  • Experience Level: Level 101 - For beginners new to the field (0-1 years experience in K-12 Online Learning)|Level 201 - For intermediate level participants (2-4 years experience in K-12 Online Learning)|Level 301 - For advanced participants (5+ years of experience in K-12 Online Learning)
  • Exhibitor: No
  • Requires Purchase of Product to Implement: No

Session Description

Utah became the first state to turn Digital Learning Now's Ten Elements of Quality Digital Learning into a comprehensive state policy. Parents for Choice in Education, a grassroots education advocacy organization used the Ten Elements as a roadmap to create a premier online learning policy for Utah students. From concept, to bill, to law, to implementation, come learn how your state can shift the paradigm on how we deliver education. Let us help you unleash the power of digital learning.
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Session Twitter Hashtag: #vss304s6




    Presentation Materials and Contributions


    Please add your contributions here.
    Notes from Marcel Kielkucki, Director of HS Completion Programs, Kirkwood Community College
    Robin is a leader in a group called Partner for Choices in Education, who led the efforts to pass SB65, which expanded online learning opportunities in Utah.
    Your policy needs to be student-centric! They used the Digital Learning Now 10 elements for their policy. Why is this important? The 10 elements have key ideas that can be used to springboard your efforts. They encompass the key ideas to move the conversation forward.
    Handouts were provided to participants with some of the literature used with passage of the bill.
    This was a goal for a paradigm shift. A key element was that the funding followed the student to the course, making this a student-centric approach.
    Funding is also based on successful completion. 50% of the course cost (25% per semester) is paid up front, with the remaining 50% upon credit earned—based on the Utah standard of a grade of D or better. Credit recovery is also incentivized by getting 30% of final payment instead of 50% if student completes prior to graduation—students get 9 weeks after the semester end date for a semester course, and 12 months per full-year course.
    Course selection is tied to the student’s education occupation plan—graduation plan—if the course is tied to this plan, then a student is eligible to take the online course—removes the gatekeeper option that a district can say no to enrollment.
    The program is eligible for grades 9-12 in Utah. In the third year of the program, homeschool and private school students will be eligible.
    No caps on student enrollment
    As a result, it puts parents and students in the driver seat because they choose the courses and course providers.
    Subject mastery now replaces seat time. It allows students to advance based on mastery. It has an open exit, open entry based on provider parameters—if the provider of the course allows it. The provider is required to administer the state assessments upon course completion year round.
    They do have multiple course providers in both a public and private partnership. What ended up being left would be authorized providers—those online programs already in existence, any LEA program created exclusively to serve students online. Authorized providers can contact with private providers to partner to create a program.
    How do you turn this into a law? Educate, network, initiate, and advocate.
    Educate—make this a top priority. Create items to help educate policymakers, etc. Debunk the myths early and refine your messaging early. Find the items that will resonate, and create materials to accompany your message. Take people to programs, etc.
    Build a strong coalition of supporters—bring on other groups outside of education (business groups, taxpayer groups, etc.)
    Partner with National Orgs and Industry Leaders—Bring in people like Jeb Bush.
    Align with Industry Partners—Content Providers, LMS individuals, etc.
    Build and Grow Grassroots Database—Helps in the long term
    Strong Relationships with Policymakers—Find your legislative members that are in support with your efforts and then continue to work with them.
    Involved in Campaigns and Elections—Think about forming a PAC, provide the database, etc.
    Take Charge! Be an initiator and take the lead. Bring in people who can help you set the state early. Bring in experts to talk to your legislative leaders. Have a strategy.
    Then be involved in helping to draft the legislation. Strategize early to try to have in what you want so it doesn’t blow up. Build in slice-aways—use a SWOT approach. Write the bill, then turn it over. You will impact a lot of code. Also find a sponsor who will be a partner with you.
    You need to do the heavy lifting for your legislative sponsor to make this an easy process for them to be the sponsor, and be involved in how the process will play out by learning the process.
    You also need to advocate—do strategic lobbying. Find opportunities to get in front of lawmakers as often as possible. Have high quality and personalized materials.
    Be an expert on your bill—know your bill so you can answer as many questions as possible. Also anticipate the reasons others oppose your bill so you can refute those ideas—be on offense, not defense.
    Utilize your resources—organize together in a strong coalition.
    How do you implement this? Once you have the legislation, your work is not done. Continue to message and market your efforts—show that what you have in legislation is a good thing! Marketing will be important by defining your audiences and lining up your funding streams. Target your audience and go where they are.
    Provide guidance to those who are interested in your programs/efforts and help them navigate through potential barriers.
    You also need to be vigilant to anticipate potential changes to your legislation in subsequent years after passage of your legislation.
    Has this been a disruptive innovation? Michael Horn then spoke in regards to how SB65 did shift the paradigm of education in Utah.
    Initially there were 7 providers before the bill, and now there are 24 providers—3 providers, 13 district providers, and 8 competing SB65 programs—with other options still exploring the possibility.
    DeLaina Tonks also discussed how the Open High School of Utah implemented SB65 in their program. 63% of students in SB65 program took core courses, while the remaining took electives. Some of these students became full-time students while other students who were full time online students dropped back and used the SB65 options.
    More information can be found at www.choiceineducation.org