WSR 09-19-150

PROPOSED RULES

SUPERINTENDENT OF

PUBLIC INSTRUCTION

[ Filed September 23, 2009, 11:05 a.m. ]

Original Notice.

Preproposal statement of inquiry was filed as WSR 09-16-143.

Title of Rule and Other Identifying Information: Proposed new chapter 392-502 WAC, Online learning: Approval of multidistrict online providers.

Hearing Location(s): Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction Annex, Annex Conference Room, 234 East 8th Avenue, Olympia, WA, on October 27, 2009, at 9:00 to 10:30.

Date of Intended Adoption: December 1, 2009.

Submit Written Comments to: Judy Margrath-Huge, Director, Digital Learning Department, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, 4507 University Way N.E., Suite 204, Seattle, WA 98105, e-mail dldinfo@k12.wa.us, fax (206) 616-4595, by October 30, 2009.

Assistance for Persons with Disabilities: Contact Wanda Griffin by (360) 725-6132, TTY (360) 664-3631 or (360) 725-6142.

Purpose of the Proposal and Its Anticipated Effects, Including Any Changes in Existing Rules: This rule establishes approval criteria and processes for multi-district online learning providers intending to serve students in grades K though [through] 12 enrolled in Washington public school districts. SSB 5410, chapter 542, Laws of 2009 requires the office of superintendent of public instruction to develop and implement approval criteria and a process for approving multidistrict online providers; a process for monitoring and, if necessary, rescinding the approval of courses or programs offered by an online course provider, and an appeals process. The criteria and processes shall be adopted by rule by December 1, 2009.

Beginning with the 2011-2012 school year, school districts may claim state basic education funding, to the extent otherwise allowed by state law, for students enrolled in online courses or programs only if the online courses or programs are:

(a) Offered by an approved multidistrict online provider;

(b) Offered by a school district online learning program if the program serves the district's own resident students and 10% or fewer nonresident students; or

(c) Offered by a regional online learning program via an interdistrict cooperative programs agreement.

Statutory Authority for Adoption: SSB 5410, chapter 542, Laws of 2009.

Statute Being Implemented: SSB 5410.

Rule is not necessitated by federal law, federal or state court decision.

Name of Proponent: [Superintendent of public instruction], governmental.

Name of Agency Personnel Responsible for Drafting, Implementation and Enforcement: Judy Margrath-Huge, Seattle, Washington, (206) 543-8188.

No small business economic impact statement has been prepared under chapter 19.85 RCW. Not required.

A cost-benefit analysis is not required under RCW 34.05.328. Not required.

September 23, 2009

Randy I. Dorn

Superintendent of

Public Instruction

Online Learning: Approval of Multidistrict Online Providers


Chapter 392-502


Draft Rules for SSB 5410
NEW SECTION
WAC 392-502-001   Authority.   The authority for these rules is <, Chapter 542, Laws of 2009>> which authorizes the superintendent of public instruction to adopt rules regarding approval of multidistrict online providers.

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NEW SECTION
WAC 392-502-005   Purposes.   The purpose of this chapter is to develop and implement criteria and processes for approving multidistrict online providers in order to further online learning opportunities for K-12 students in the state of Washington.

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NEW SECTION
WAC 392-502-010   Definitions.   As used in this chapter, the term:

(1) "Multidistrict online provider" shall mean:

(a) A private or nonprofit organization that enters into a contract with a school district to provide online courses or programs to K-12 students from more than one school district;

(b) A private or nonprofit organization that enters into contracts with multiple school districts to provide online courses or programs to K-12 students from those districts; or

(c) A school district that provides online courses or programs to students who reside outside the geographic boundaries of the school district, subject to the following exceptions:

(i) "Multidistrict online provider" does not include a school district online learning program in which fewer than ten percent of the students enrolled in the program are from other districts under the interdistrict student transfer provisions of RCW 28A.225.225.

(ii) "Multidistrict online provider" also does not include regional online learning programs that are jointly developed and implemented by two or more school districts or an educational service district through an interdistrict cooperative program agreement that addresses, at minimum, how the districts share student full-time equivalency for state basic education funding purposes and how categorical education programs, including special education, are provided to eligible students.

(2) "Online course" shall mean a course that:

(a) Is delivered primarily electronically using the internet or other computer-based methods; and

(b) Is taught by a teacher primarily from a remote location. Students enrolled in an online course may have access to the teacher synchronously, asynchronously, or both.

(c) An online course may be delivered to students at school as part of the regularly scheduled school day. An online course also may be delivered to students, in whole or in part, independently from a regular classroom schedule, but such courses must comply with RCW 28A.150.262 and WAC 392-121-182 to qualify for state basic education funding.

(3) "Online school program" shall mean a school program that:

(a) Is delivered primarily electronically using the internet or other computer-based methods;

(b) Is taught by a teacher primarily from a remote location. Students enrolled in an online program may have access to the teacher synchronously, asynchronously, or both;

(c) Delivers a part-time or full-time sequential program; and

(d) Has an online component of the program with online lessons and tools for student and data management.

(e) An online school program may be delivered to students at school as part of the regularly scheduled school day. An online online school program also may be delivered to students, in whole or in part, independently from a regular classroom schedule, but such programs must comply with RCW 28A.150.262 and WAC 392-121-182 to qualify for state basic education funding.

(4) "Accrediting organizations" shall mean those designated organizations identified by the superintendent of public instruction after consultation with the Washington council for online learning and subsequently published on the superintendent of public instruction website.

(5) "Approval" means that school districts are authorized to claim state basic education funding, to the extent otherwise allowed by state law, for students enrolled in online courses or programs of the approved multidistrict online provider.

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NEW SECTION
WAC 392-502-020   Approval process and timeline.   (1) Multidistrict online providers offering online courses or online school programs, either in whole or in part, are subject to the approval criteria, processes and timelines described in this chapter.

(2) Multidistrict online providers that complete the approval process as specified in this subsection, and that receive approval will be listed as an approved multidistrict online provider on the superintendent of public instruction's website.

(3) The superintendent of public instruction shall make a first round of approval decisions by April 1, 2010. Subsequent approval decisions shall be made annually by November 1st of each year. The following table identifies the timelines and due dates for approval decisions. The deadline for submission of an application is 5 p.m. pacific time on the due date. If the listed dates fall on a holiday or weekend, the effective date will be the next business day.


Application for approval available Application due date Approval decisions made by:
Initial approval decisions December 31, 2009 January 31, 2010 April 1, 2010
Subsequent approval decisions July 1 September 1 November 1

(4) Any multidistrict online provider that was approved by the digital learning commons or accredited by the northwest association of accredited schools before July 26, 2009, and that meets the state of Washington teacher certification requirements of WAC 392-502-030 is exempt from the initial approval process under this chapter until August 31, 2012, but must comply with the process for renewal of approvals and must comply with approval requirements.

(5) A school district online learning program or regional online learning program jointly developed and implemented by two or more school districts or an educational service district through an interdistrict cooperative program agreement is subject to multidistrict online provider approval requirements if the following conditions are met:

(a) At the end of any school year the program's annual average headcount for that school year includes a number of students that are enrolled in the program from other districts under the interdistrict student transfer provisions of RCW 28A.225.225 that equals or exceeds ten percent of the total program enrollment.

(b) In order to be eligible to claim state basic education funding during the subsequent school year, the program must apply for approval in that year's November approval cycle.

(c) The program may claim state basic education funding in the following school year only if it receives approval as a multidistrict online provider.

(6) A multidistrict online provider seeking approval shall submit an application, using the submission method and application format prescribed by the superintendent of public instruction. The application will be reviewed for full compliance with the approval assurances. The application will also be reviewed and scored as to the degree of compliance with the approval criteria, and must meet or exceed the acceptable scores set by the superintendent of public instruction.

(7) Only those applications that demonstrate full compliance with each assurance, and that demonstrate substantially acceptable compliance with the approval criteria using a rating system established by the superintendent of public instruction will be approved.

(8) The superintendent will provide each applicant written notification of the results of the application review, including feedback regarding the areas of the application that were not in compliance.

(9) Any modifications to the approval process and timelines will appear on the superintendent of public instruction website by July 1 each year.

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NEW SECTION
WAC 392-502-030   Approval assurances and criteria.   (1) To receive approval, multidistrict online providers must meet the following assurances and criteria.

(a) Each of the following assurances must be met before an application will be considered for approval:

(i) Accreditation at the time of the application through an accrediting organization approved by the superintendent of public instruction.

(ii) Courses or programs are aligned with the state of Washington academic standards.

(iii) All teachers are certificated in accordance with state of Washington law.

(iv) For multidistrict online providers that offer high school courses, courses offered by the provider are eligible for high school credit.

(v) Courses meet all credit and content requirements specified in Washington statute and regulation.

(vi) All advanced placement courses are approved via the college board advanced placement course audit.

(vii) Data management systems ensure all student information remains confidential, as required by the federal family educational rights and privacy act (ferpa).

(viii) Web systems meet specified accessibility levels such as those outlined in the world wide web consortium's web accessibility initiative web content accessibility guidelines.

(ix) Provide all information as directed or as requested by the office of superintendent of public instruction, the secretary for the department of education, and other federal officials for audit, program evaluation compliance, monitoring, and other purposes, and to maintain all records for the current year and three previous years.

(x) Inform the office of superintendent of public instruction in writing of any significant changes to the program.

(b) The following approval criteria categories must be addressed in the application and must meet a substantially acceptable level of quality using a rating system established by the superintendent of public instruction:

(i) The provider's course content and instructional design incorporates sufficient rigor, depth, and breadth to teach the standards being addressed, details the course goals and outcomes, organizes materials and content for ease of use and access, and incorporates strategies to support student engagement.

(ii) Classroom management standards detail grading and privacy policies, internet etiquette, and expectations for communications.

(iii) Student assessment incorporates various assessment types, frequent feedback, and appropriateness for the online learning environment.

(iv) The provider engages in course evaluation and management using strategies for obtaining feedback about the courses or programs and has established processes for quality assurance and updating content.

(v) Student support provisions are made to enhance the student's experience and academic success by incorporating appropriate policies and systems for access to information, monitoring student progress, and avenues for complaints.

(vi) Mentor support processes and access are built into the provider's systems to allow mentors to support student success.

(vii) Technology requirements and support are clearly described and the provider's course platform contains standards for ease of navigation.

(viii) The provider is committed to providing staff development and support including training and evaluation of their online teachers.

(ix) Program management is ensured including timeliness and quality of teachers' responses to students, handling of fees, prompt distribution of materials, and processing of enrollment.

(2) Detailed approval criteria shall be posted on the superintendent of public instruction website by December 31, 2009, and any subsequent modifications to the criteria will be posted to the superintendent of public instruction website by July 1 each year to be used in the next review cycle and after review by the online learning advisory committee and the state board of education.

(3) When developing local or regional online learning programs, school districts shall incorporate the approval criteria developed by the superintendent of public instruction into the program design.

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NEW SECTION
WAC 392-502-040   Appeal of the superintendent's decision.   (1) Provider applicants not approved may file an appeal to the superintendent of public instruction for reconsideration within 15 business days of notification of denial. The provider must provide specific, objective information that details the basis for their appeal.

(2) The superintendent of public instruction shall act upon the appeal and notify the applicant in writing whether the appeal was approved or denied within 45 business days. This deadline for acting on the appeal may be extended if additional information is required from the applicant.

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NEW SECTION
WAC 392-502-050   Approval duration and conditions for approval.   (1) Approval will be for the four subsequent consecutive full school years.

(a) Multidistrict online providers that met the grandfathering criteria of SSB 5410, section 3.3, are granted initial approval until August 31, 2012, and must complete the renewal process prior to that date.

(2) Multidistrict providers that have been approved shall be required to provide information to the superintendent of public instruction on the following:

(a) Online course provider's overall instructional program.

(b) Content of individual online courses and online school programs.

(c) Direct link to the online provider's website.

(d) Registration information for online learning programs and courses.

(e) Teacher qualifications.

(f) Student-to-teacher ratios.

(g) Course completion rates as defined by the superintendent of public instruction.

(h) Other evaluative and comparative information requested by the superintendent of public instruction.

(3) Approved multidistrict online providers must do the following during their approval period:

(a) Carry out the program or courses described in the approval application.

(b) Abide by the assurances listed in WAC 392-502-030 and certified in the application process.

(c) Maintain the approval criteria listed in WAC 392-502-030.

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NEW SECTION
WAC 392-502-060   Rescinding approvals.   (1) Approved multidistrict online providers that fail to comply with the conditions of approval in WAC 392-502-050, may be subject to rescindment of approval.

(2) Process for rescindment.

(a) An approved multidistrict online provider will be notified in writing by the superintendent of public instruction when there is substantial evidence that it is not meeting one or more of the approval conditions and that rescindment is being considered. The notification shall state the specific areas of concern.

(b) The provider will be invited to submit a corrective action plan with a timeline to address the specific areas of concern.

(c) The superintendent of public instruction shall consider the corrective action plan and make the following determinations regarding the plan:

(i) Whether it satisfactorily addresses the specific areas of concern.

(ii) Whether additional corrective actions are necessary.

(iii) Determine the type of ongoing monitoring.

(iv) Or whether the plan is substantially incomplete and the approval should be immediately rescinded. Before making this decision, the superintendent shall provide an opportunity for the multidistrict online provider to clarify and adjust the plan.

(d) Recognizing the serious nature of rescindment and its potential impact on students, districts, and providers, the superintendent of public instruction will only rescind approvals if the multidistrict online provider is unable or unwilling to take the identified corrective actions to bring the courses or programs into compliance with the approval assurances and criteria. If the superintendent of public instruction determines that a multidistrict online provider's approval must be rescinded, the implementation of the rescindment shall, to the greatest extent possible, be timed to prevent unnecessary disruption to the education of the students.

(e) The superintendent of public instruction reserves the right to immediately rescind approval of any provider where conditions exist that jeopardize academic or fiscal integrity or compromise the health and safety of students or staff.

(3) Rescinded providers are permitted to submit for re-approval during any subsequent approval application period.

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NEW SECTION
WAC 392-502-070   Renewal process.   (1) The approval period is four years, and the renewal process is the same as the approval process.

(2) Approved multidistrict online providers must apply for renewal no later than the approval cycle during the fourth year of approval in order to maintain uninterrupted approval for the following school year.

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NEW SECTION
WAC 392-502-080   Approval required for state funding.   (1) Beginning with the 201112 school year, school districts may claim state basic education funding, to the extent otherwise allowed by state law, for students enrolled in online courses or programs only if the online courses or programs are:

(a) Offered by a multidistrict online provider approved by the superintendent of public instruction,

(b) Offered by a school district online learning program if the program serves students who reside within the geographic boundaries of the school district, including school district programs in which fewer than ten percent of the program's students reside outside the school district's geographic boundaries; or

(c) Offered by a regional online learning program where courses are jointly developed and offered by two or more school districts or an educational service district through an interdistrict cooperative program agreement in which fewer than ten percent of the program's students reside outside the school districts' geographic boundaries.

(2) Criteria shall be established by the superintendent of public instruction to allow online courses that have not been approved by the superintendent of public instruction to be eligible for state funding if the course is in a subject matter in which no courses have been approved and, if it is a high school course, the course meets state of Washington high school graduation requirements. These criteria will be posted on the superintendent of public instruction website by December 31, 2009, and any modifications to those will appear by July 1 each year after review by the online learning advisory committee and the state board of education.

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Washington State Code Reviser's Office