As the number of K-12 students who take online courses continues to grow — more than two million are currently enrolled — the need to uphold rigorous standards to online education is becoming that much more important. And with criticism leveled at many online schools for poor academic performance, the online education model needs to create a more accurate way to assess the quality of the dozens of programs in the space.
That’s the premise of a new report published by the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) entitled “Measuring Quality from Inputs to Outcomes,” which focuses on laying out a new system of metrics. The report advocates for a new assessment model that focuses on competency-based evaluations that measure a student’s learning trajectory – including proficiency and growth – rather than what the organization call “inputs,” as traditional schools do. Inputs include things like teacher licensing and curriculum and textbook standards. Those inputs are not tied to student achievement, the authors argue, so they fail as metrics for assessing whether an online education program is doing its job.