Approval of Online Private Schools

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1 Randy I. Dorn State Superintendent Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction Old Capitol Building P.O. Box Olympia, WA Approval of Online Private Schools 2014 Authorizing legislation: RCW 28A (http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=28a ) Secondary Education and Student Support Dan Newell, Assistant Superintendent Prepared by: Private School Advisory Committee (PSAC) o Suzie Hanson, WFIS Executive Director ) o Duane Schafer, Superintendent, Diocese of Spokane ) o Judy Jennings, PSAC Representative to the State Board of Education ) o Don Johnson, Chair, PSAC and Superintendent, Cascade Christian Schools ) Mike Hubert, Director, Guidance and Counseling )

2 TABLE OF CONTENTS Executive Summary... 3 Introduction... 4 Survey Overview... 4 Conclusion and Next Steps... 4 Acknowledgments... 5 Appendix Survey Results... 6

3 Executive Summary The nature of education is evolving, and the use of online learning is becoming more prevalent in all schools. As more schools move toward incorporating online classes into their programs, it will be important that approved private schools are allowed to initiate online school programs that support their school community. RCW 28A went into effect in the spring of 2013, allowing state-approved private schools to offer online programs. SB 5496 requires the Private School Advisory Committee (PSAC) to examine issues associated with the private schools' state approval of online programs. The PSAC decides if the approval criteria and procedures are sufficient. If they aren t, the PSAC recommends changes. This report contains these PSAC recommendations, based on the results from a survey (see results in the appendix) given to all 520 private schools in Washington State. The survey was conducted in the fall of 2013 by the Washington Federation of Independent Schools. The survey s participation rate was 21.3 percent. Survey results show: Due to the limited time between when the law went into effect and the beginning of the next school year, only a very small handful of schools were ready to open online schools in fall 2013 or already had online programs. Schools are unsure if the approval process for private schools to run online schools is sufficient. Because some schools report not being prepared to start online programs or do not wish to, they may not be familiar with current legislation on the process. Many of these private schools use a combination of online instruction and onsite instruction, called blended learning, or are considering its implementation. On the other hand, some have missions or school philosophies that do not allow for online learning. A very small number either use online learning now, or are considering its implementation. Perceived barriers to starting online schools or programs include start-up costs, lack of technological support, lack of student interest, and lack of parental support. The top three reasons for having interest in starting an online school program included offering more grade levels, expanding and/or improving curriculum, differentiating learning for students. The majority of private schools were not ready to start new online programs this year. In fact, many are hesitant to start them at all. 3

4 Introduction Private Schools are required to be approved by the State Board of Education (SBE). RCW 28A permits approved private schools to add an online school programs to their brick-andmortar schools as long as they follow the same approval process with the state. Survey Overview In the fall of 2013, the Washington Federation of Independent Schools surveyed our state s 520 state-approved private schools. Due to the limited time between when RCW 28A went into effect in the spring of 2013 and the beginning of the next school year, only 25 of the schools that responded to the survey were ready to open online schools or already had online programs. The survey shows that many private schools are unsure if the approval process to run online schools is sufficient. This might be because some schools report not being prepared to start online programs or do not wish to, so they may not be familiar with current legislation. Twenty-five percent of the respondents thought that once schools opened online school programs, it would be clearer whether the approval guidelines were sufficient. Thirty-four percent of schools felt the new regulations were sufficient. Five percent were concerned there are not enough regulations for online learning. Many of these private schools use a combination of online instruction and onsite instruction, called blended learning, or are considering its implementation. In fact, the survey data reveal that 58 percent of responding private schools either have blended learning now, or are considering its implementation. On the other hand, 42 percent have missions or school philosophies that do not allow for online learning. Eight percent either use online learning now, or are considering its implementation. Of those schools, 19 percent are considering starting an online program that would extend their grade levels beyond the grade levels that they currently offer serve in their brick-and-mortar schools. Conclusion and Next Steps The PSAC recommends that another survey be administered to state-approved private schools in the school year. The purpose of the survey would be to assess private school understanding of RCW 28A , and if the rules are sufficient to support private schools and the adoption of online programs. The survey will also provide data on the growth in the number of private schools offering online programs. PSAC will have a standing agenda item at their semi-annual meetings to discuss online school programs. Current trends and issues will be monitored and analyzed. Implementation stories from schools will be shared. PSAC will make additional recommendations to OSPI and the SBE on the development of online school programs as needed. 4

5 Acknowledgments The following PSAC committee members and staff collaborated on this report: Don Johnson, Chair, Private School Advisory Committee Superintendent, Cascade Christian Schools Duane Schaffer, Ph.D., Private School Advisory Committee Superintendent Catholic Diocese of Spokane Dan Newell, Assistant Superintendent, Secondary Education and Student Support, OSPI Mike Hubert, Director, Guidance and Counseling, OSPI Judy Jenning, Private School Representative, State Board of Education Suzie Hanson, Private School Advisory Committee Executive Director, Washington Federation of Independent Schools Laura Moore, Private Education, Secondary Education and Student Support, OSPI 5

6 APPENDIX Survey Results Questions Number Percentage Do you have an online program for your students? We have a blended learning program % Our students can take online classes that our school provides % No we are considering a blended program % We are considering initiating an online school % No, we will not use a blended program % We will not allow our students to take classes online % If your school has an online program is it...? For grades outside of those who attend your brick and mortar school? 3 10% For grades within your current school program? % If you are considering an online program, will it be for...? The same grades you currently teach? % Different grades than your school currently teaches? % If you are interested in starting an online program, what are perceived obstacles? Parent support % OSPI regulations % Start-up costs % Lack of technological assistance % Competition from other programs % Lack of interest from students % 6

7 Questions Number Percentage If you are planning to start an online program for your school, what are the perceived benefits? * Increased enrollment & Flexibility % Ability to reach students that cannot afford our regular tuition % Accessibility to more curriculum and different learning styles/teaching methods Would provide a private school alternative for our students exiting out of 8th grade % % If you are planning to start an online program for your school, what are the perceived benefits? (continued) Lower cost than hiring an extra teacher % Access to science curriculum a current weakness % It would allow a small school like ours an opportunity to offer more high quality learning that otherwise we wouldn't be able to Particularly helpful for students in our homeschool extension program who don't have a teacher from our school nearby There are some advantages for blended learning especially for summer programs for credit restoration % % % Moving forward with technology % Need for more regulations ** Don t know % No, regulations as they stand are sufficient % Maybe. It will depend on how online schools are handled by participating schools % Yes, there need to be more protections % * Of the 111 respondents, only 38 (34.23 percent) responded to this question. ** Of the 111 respondents, 13 (92.79 percent) responded to this question. 7

8 OSPI provides equal access to all programs and services without discrimination based on sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation including gender expression or identity, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability. Questions and complaints of alleged discrimination should be directed to the Equity and Civil Rights Director at (360) or P.O. Box Olympia, WA Download this material in PDF at This material is available in alternative format upon request. Contact the Resource Center at (888) , TTY (360) Please refer to this document number for quicker service: Randy I. Dorn State Superintendent Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction Old Capitol Building P.O. Box Olympia, WA

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