Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to testify before the Tennessee House Education Instruction & Programs Subcommittee about one of my favorite topics: Course Access.
Thanks to this new technology-driven choice initiative, students can access a high-quality education regardless of their location. Any state can use Course Access programs to connect students—wherever they may live—with a wide variety of quality resources, instructors and courses.
According to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, only half of America’s high schools offer calculus and just under two-thirds offer physics. And in Tennessee, 211 of the state’s 347 high schools offer little or no opportunity for students to take Advanced Placement courses according to the Tennessee Department of Education.
The truth is that no single school in Tennessee, or any other state, is equipped to offer all the courses their students need or would want to take. Even so, all students deserve access to the high-quality teachers and courses that will help them reach their potential and work toward their dreams.
This is why Course Access programs are so significant. Many courses in these programs use technology to virtually and flexibly connect students with teachers and content. These programs aggregate demand for individual courses across schools and districts to offer students a range of courses—from Advanced Placement options to beginner’s Mandarin—their local schools couldn’t individually support.
Best of all, Course Access allows each student to select the right courses to match his or her needs and interests. This is something I hope Tennessee and every other state will work toward.
About the author
Neil is the Policy Director for Personalized and Blended Learning for the Foundation. Neil previously worked as the Director of Strategic Initiatives at Education Elements, an education technology company that helps schools design and implement personalized learning solutions. Neil also served at the U.S. Department of Education as a Special Assistant and later Chief of Staff in the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development where he focused on the Department’s budget formulation and planning. Neil came to the Department as part of The Broad Residency in Education after receiving his MBA from Vanderbilt University and working at The Boston Consulting Group. Contact Neil at Neilc@excelined.org