PHOENIX — Picture a typical public school classroom: Rows of students facing a blackboard, with a teacher lecturing. It’s the same scene in 2011 as it was in 1911 – and, in a world of laptop computers, smartphones and iPads, it’s wildly out of date and ineffective. But that is changing.
In A Custom Education for Every Child: The Promise of Online Learning and Education Savings Accounts, Goldwater Institute Senior Fellow Dan Lips examines how technology can be combined with the newly created Education Savings Accounts to help parents create education solutions that challenge their children and help them prepare for the real world.
In 2011, the Arizona legislature adopted Education Savings Accounts, which give special-needs K-12 students state money for educational services tailored to their individual needs. The report calls on Arizona lawmakers to expand the savings accounts program to all Arizona students, and for legislatures across the country to adopt Education Savings Accounts for all students.
“By 2020, online learning is expected to rise dramatically, with about half of all high school instruction taking place online,” said Goldwater Institute Education Director Jonathan Butcher. “Schools must keep pace, and implementing and expanding Education Savings Accounts is one way to open these tools up to all students.”
Butcher added that the growth of online learning solutions changes the discussion of choice in education – the conversation moves from choosing a school to choosing individual services that specifically meet a student’s needs.
The breadth of digital learning programs extends from full-time online virtual schools to occasional online instruction that supplements a student’s traditional coursework. The benefits include improved academic achievement and a better overall learning experience for students.
One Arizona school is leading the way. In 2011, Carpe Diem Academy in Yuma was named one of the best high schools in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. Carpe Diem uses a “blended-learning” approach in which students receive half of their instruction from a computer-based learning program and half from a traditional teacher-classroom environment.
The Goldwater Institute is an independent government watchdog that develops innovative, principled solutions to issues facing the states.