Report: More Public Students Taking Distance Courses

A new report on distance education courses in public school districts for the 2009-10 school year shows that 55 percent of districts reported having students enrolled in distance education courses, says the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

National data about enrollment in distance education courses can be seen in Distance Education Courses for Public Elementary and Secondary School Students: 2009–10, a First Look from the Fast Response Survey System (FRSS), which analyzes how districts monitor their distance courses. It also looks at what benefits districts have for providing distance education, and the technologies used for delivering distance education.

Almost all of the schools that reported at having students enrolled in distance education reported having students enrolled at high school level, with having 19 percent at the middle or junior high school level, 6 percent at the elementary school level, and 4 percent in combined or ungraded schools.

Districts reported an estimated 1.8 million enrollments in distance education courses for 2009–10, with 22 percent reporting that students enrolled in regular high school programs could take a full course load using only distance education courses, while 12 percent reported that students could fulfill all high school graduation requirements using only distance education courses.

This comes as Yvonne T. Betowt at the Huntsville Times reports that a new free ACCESS distance learning program for public school students has been launched in Alabama. The state sponsored program allows students in grades 9-12 to take courses that their own school may not offer, like foreign languages.

ACCESS stands for Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators and Students Statewide and it means Alabama is the first state to offer a “blended model” in which teachers use both video conference and Web-based instruction courses.

“We started in January 2006 with 24 pilot schools,” says Dr Anne Davidson, coordinator of the northern region on the project.

“We have become third-largest program of this kind in the nation behind Florida and North Carolina. Now we have 63 school districts and 153 schools with an enrollment of 4,549 students. We have 220 teachers from 42 systems and 102 schools.”

The First Look from the Fast Response Survey System was published by the National Center for Education Statistics at the Institute of Education Sciences, part of the U.S. Department of Education.