15 Things States Should Do Now

New tools and new schools are reshaping the opportunity set in education.  State policy is an important framework which can either encourage or dampen innovation. Digital Learning Now provides a useful framework of state policy recommendations.  To get started, here are 15 things every state should do now:


1. Embrace Core & More. Common Core State Standards are internationally benchmarked college ready expectations in reading, writing, and math. With online networks, they represent a platform for innovation allowing teachers to share tools, resources and strategies across state lines.  Like the 19 states that have joined the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, states should encourage career and civic readiness.


2. Shift to competency-based preparation of educators (see Preparing Teachers For Deeper Learning and Preparing School Leaders) and expand alternative preparation pathways especially those linked to high performing school districts/networks.

3. Support an incubator like 4.0 Schools to encourage edupreneurs. (See 4 reasons every city needs an incubator.)

Tools and Schools

4. Support new/transformed school grants modeled after Next Generation Learning Challenges grants.  New schools create important options for students and a picture of the future for educators. (See feature on CityBridge and NGLCin Washington D.C.)

5. Encourage schools to work in networks and use smart procurement to adoption of one of several IT stacks including student information systems, learning management system, social learning networks, open and proprietary content, and student access devices. (See Smart Series Guide to EdTech Procurement.)


6. Support improved broadband access to schools and homes with public private partnerships

7. Provide matching grants to districts and networks with a good plan to boost student access to take home technology (laptops & tablets).

Course Choice

8. Expand course choice options: full and part time access to online and blended options from multiple providers (seeLouisiana students gained online options, and 10 Strategies States & Districts Can Use to Boost AP).

9. Encourage all schools to provide coding and computer science options; allow substitution of computer science classes for math and science grad requirements; and support adoption of nationally recognized information technology industry certifications. (See advice from the experts.)


10. Encourage competency-based student progressions by requiring students to show what they know and making end of course exams available on demand. (See DLN section on Advancement; for more see CompetencyWorks)

11. Enable data backpacks–a gradebook of data that follows a student from grade to grade and school to school.

12. Encourage use of parent-managed comprehensive learner profiles.  As recommended by the Department, parents should have the ability to download a learner profile and share it with multiple providers. Give every student a digital portfolio (see features on EduClipper and Pathbrite)

13. Power equitable options with funding that weighted, flexible, and portable.

14. Support short cycle trials of promising tools and strategies and Proposals for Better Growth Measures;

15. Set a timeline for the digital conversion.  State leaders should frame compelling goals and encourage proactive planning around a specific timeline.  (see Blended Learning Implementation Guide 2.0.)


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