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Little State, Big Success in Expanding Course Access

• ExcelinEd

Course Access: Expanding Access and Equity

All parents deserve the ability to help their children reach their full potential. The unfortunate truth is that, for many parents, the ability to do so is determined by the side of town on which they live, the high school their child attends, or the amount of discretionary income in their household.

As a result, many of our children are unable to take the academic coursework that challenges and motivates them to reach their full potential. This is not acceptable. In Rhode Island we know we must do better to support our children and our families.

Earlier this fall, a new opportunity opened for Rhode Island students: the Advanced Coursework Network.

The Advanced Coursework Network provides students access to more than 180 courses that go far beyond the scope of what any single middle school or high school could possibly offer. It offers a diverse catalog of courses that range from AP statistics to EMT training, from computer science and game design to sports management.

These courses allow our students to seek out challenging academic experiences, which will prepare them for college and for high-skill, high-demand jobs.

First, there is a wide range of course providers. Course providers can be other middle or High School Graduateshigh schools, colleges and universities, non-profit organizations or workforce training partners.

Instead of making workforce training available to our youth when they are 18 and unemployed, we are making this experience available to them while they are still in school and preparing for a career.

Second, the Advanced Coursework Network allows students to remain enrolled in their local high school while taking the coursework that is aligned with their personal passions and goals.  Best of all, these opportunities are available at no cost to our students, their families or the local school district.

The Advanced Coursework Network isn’t an asset only to Rhode Island’s children and families, but it’s also an asset to our school districts. District leaders see the Advanced Coursework Network as a tool that achieves equity by providing all of our students an equal opportunity to access advanced courses.

Our district leaders have always wanted to provide all of their students access to an array of courses, but they have been unable to do so because of limited resources.  Through the Advanced Coursework Network, our schools can meet the unique needs of each student – at no cost to the district.

We are proud that our schools and community members are working together to bring these opportunities to students, regardless of race, ethnicity and economic status.

In this age of innovation and empowerment, our parents will no longer need to forgo vacations or uproot their families to help their children take the coursework required to reach their full potential.

Instead, they will visit to learn about how their children can take advantage of the opportunities made available through the Advanced Coursework Network.

Steve OsbornAbout the Author

Steve Osborn is the Chief for Innovation at the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE). Steve previously served as the Assistant Superintendent of Student Programs at the Louisiana Department of Education.


Visit ExcelinEd’s Policy Library to learn more about Course Access.

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