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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Course choice opens high school options 

“Course choice,” also known as course access, is expanding options for students whose high schools can’t meet all their learning needs, report Liana Loewus and Andrew Ujifusa in Education Week.

Todd Ott, a senior at Prairie High School in Cottonwood, Idaho, is taking a dual-credit course. Photo: Jerome Pollos/Education Week

Parents and students choose pre-approved courses, often taught online, to get a head start on college, career or special interests.

Fifteen states offer course choice in some form, reports the Foundation for Excellence in Education and Evergreen Education.

In a Town Hall interview, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos encouraged states to use the Every Student Succeeds Act’s flexibility to fund course choice.

Idaho is a national leader. The state’s new Fast Forward program gives $4,125 to “every 7th through 12th grader to spend on approved high school and college-credit-bearing courses of his or her choice,” reports Ed Week.

Students can select overload courses, which are high school classes that go beyond a student’s regular courseload, or dual-credit courses, which offer college and high school credits simultaneously. Students can also take college-credit-bearing exams, such as Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and professional-certification tests for such varied fields as welding and nursing.

Course choice can be “tremendously powerful” for students — and disruptive for schools, said John Watson, the founder of Evergreen Education Group. “You hold the possibility of very rapidly upending funding and accountability mechanisms that are very much built around schools and districts, and not individual course providers. Schools are more than just a collection of courses kids are taking.”

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