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Florida Gets Top Marks for Digital Learning Initiatives

May 4, 2015 - 6:00pm

Florida leads the nation when it comes to digital learning, according to a new report released from the Foundation for Floridas Future. Florida was one of only two states to earn an A- -- the highest any state scored this year.

Digital learning can open doors for students by improving the delivery, access, quality and rigor of education for todays learners, said Patricia Levesque, CEO of ExcelinEd. This is exactly what our students need to succeed in the 21st century. Many of todays lawmakers and education leaders are stepping up and creating the opportunities and infrastructure for students to explore powerful new models of learning.

In 2010, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush teamed up with former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise to co-chair the convening of the Digital Learning Council. The council, which consisted of 100 leaders from a variety of fields, created a road map for the policies local, state and federal lawmakers could create to support a high level of digital learning for students in the modern age.

For the Foundations 2014 report, Florida and Utah ranked the highest for high-quality digital learning environments. They were the only two states to earn an A ranking.

The council identified 10 elements of high-quality digital learning -- including accessibility, funding and accountability. Since then, states have worked to push policies to further digital learning in their own states.

Florida ranked well above the national average in all 10 categories for digital learning. There were only two areas in which it did not achieve a score greater than 90 percent: quality choices (measured by all students having access to multiple high-quality digital learning providers) and delivery (having infrastructure that supports digital learning).

Florida still scored above the national average in these areas.

The report also highlighted 2012s HB 7059, which allows students to graduate high school early. The legislation also mandated that districts provide higher-grade-level subjects digitally and that parents be informed of options available.

John Bailey, vice president of policy and executive director of Digital Learning Now said digital learning can provide an edge for students who want to learn beyond the standard classroom time.

Interactive and adaptive learning technologies can ensure that every student advances to the next level when they have mastered the necessary skills and material, not just when the school year ends, he said. As we have seen in the report card, state leaders have the ability to transform education and provide every student with a rigorous, high-quality, customized education that will prepare them for success in college and their careers.

Bailey said a push for digital learning is good because it can allow students to work at their own pace.

One of the great things about digital learning is the fact that it can be personalized and customized to meet individual student needs, he explained. As part of competency-based education, states are beginning to think about how they can both integrate learning from outside the classroom into the day-to-day structure, and also how that learning can best be counted for credit for the student.

State lawmakers agreed with Floridas push to create better digital learning opportunities for its students.

If a child is excelling, why are we handcuffing them, said Sen. John Legg, chairman of the Florida Senate Education Committee. Accelerated education provides a critical opportunity for every child to reach their fullest potential. By customizing to student needs, it allows for inspired learning that encourages students to achieve.

View the full report here.

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