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Virtual Schools Bill Requires Onboarding, Statewide Authorizers

walden_computer.jpg

(Bartmoni/Wikimedia Commons)

Lawmakers proposed new rules for Indiana’s poorly-rated virtual schools after years of failing letter grades and calls for them to improve. A measure heard in a House committee Wednesday would help, but many say it’s just a start.

The bill doesn’t include all of the state board’s policy recommendations, made last month.

Instead, it mainly focuses on orientation for virtual school families.

House Education Committee chair Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis) authored the bill. It would require annual onboarding and orientation for students enrolled in virtual schools or programs, aimed at improving student engagement by setting expectations with families.

“You’re talking about parents as they enroll in a virtual education system, that they have to understand that this requires some level of engagement by a parent,” he says.

Committee members and people commenting on the bill for the most part support the measure, and more regulations on virtual education more generally. That includes Daleville Community Schools Superintendent Paul Garrison – his district oversees two virtual charters.

“There is indeed a need to provide more direction and regulation of virtual education beyond that which we’ve been able to provide as an authorizer,” he says.

But the bill would also move oversight of statewide virtual charter schools away from districts like Daleville. A change made to the bill in committee means only statewide authorizers can oversee virtual charter schools.

Behning says he’ll consider other state board recommendations to include in the bill later on. The bill passed 8 to 0, and now goes to the House.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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