K-12 online and blended learning have evolved in new directions in the past year. While now familiar segments of the field, such as online charter schools and state virtual schools, have continued to grow, relatively new forms such as consortium programs and single-district programs are expanding even more rapidly, as is the range of private providers competing to work with districts. As of late 2011, online and blended learning opportunities exist for at least some students in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, but no state has a full suite of full-time and supplemental options for students at all grade levels.
Key trends and events from the past year include:
- Single district programs are the fastest growing segment of online and blended learning.
- Most district programs are blended, instead of fully online.
- Intermediate units, BOCES, county offices, and other education service agencies are taking on important roles.
- State virtual schools are dividing into two tiers—those with significant impact and those without—largely based on funding model.
- Several states passed important new online learning laws, some of which cited the Ten Elements of Digital Learning created by Digital Learning Now.
- The Common Core State Standards are taking hold, common assessments are next, and open educational resources are an increasingly important element.
- The provider landscape is changing rapidly.
- Special student needs gain new focus.