By Michael B. Horn
As Course Access programs, in which students have access to publicly funded courses of their choice across a range of providers held accountable for results, proliferate across the country, gauging the success of these statewide programs will be difficult because of how districts are likely to respond, as I wrote a few weeks back.
Few entities like to lose money even if it means their students will be better served, just as few companies like to lose money when customers choose another option in search of a better fit.
But Course Access presents a number of opportunities for districts, if they leverage it appropriately.
First, given the wide variety of students schools serve, it is challenging, if not impossible, for most school districts to provide access to all of the courses and academic content necessary to meet each student’s needs, interests, and abilities. The story is bleaker than many realize. Across the country, less than two-thirds of high schools–63%–offer physics. Only about half of high schools offer calculus. Among high schools that serve large percentages of African-American and Latino students, one in four don’t offer Algebra II, and one in three don’t offer chemistry.