About Keeping Pace
Keeping Pace has several goals. First, it strives to add to the body of knowledge about online education policy and practice, and make recommendations for advances. Second, it serves as a reference source for information about programs and policies across the country, both for policymakers and practitioners who are new to online education, and for those who have extensive experience in the field. Third, because there has been so much online education activity in the past year, the report attempts to capture new activity.
The Keeping Pace 2012 report:
- Provides a national “snapshot” of the state of online learning as of fall 2012 using original data.
- Presents program profiles from a cross-section of program types, including state-led and district-led, supplemental and full-time, charter schools, and both synchronous and asynchronous programs.
- Provides state profiles of K-12 online learning, in alphabetical order.
- Identifies key issues and trends in online learning, building on the data gathered through the development of the program and state profiles.
The information found in Keeping Pace 2012 came from two primary data-gathering efforts: a web-based program survey, and a combination of Internet research, emails, and phone interviews with personnel from state education agencies, online programs, and other sources.
For state profiles, research and reviews of state laws were combined with phone interviews and emails. For states with little new activity in 2012, in many cases personnel reviewed and made minor changes to state profiles presented in Keeping Pace 2011. In most cases, the state education agency reviewed the final version of the profile for accuracy. In a field that is growing and changing as rapidly as online education, timeliness of information is imperative, and indeed timeliness has been one of the drivers of interest in Keeping Pace. Research for this year’s report was conducted from May through mid-September of 2012, and every effort has been made to ensure currency of information as of October 1, 2012.
In addition to the methods discussed above, the sponsoring organizations for Keeping Pace provided extensive expertise and knowledge of the state of online learning across the country. This report would not be possible without their thoughtful contributions, and expertise. Any errors or omissions, however, are fully the responsibility of the Evergreen Education Group.
The 2012 survey was designed to gather information from a variety of K-12 online and blended learning programs, including state virtual schools, full-time and supplemental programs, charter schools, and district-level programs. It was distributed through the Keeping Pace sponsors, to the iNACOL members on its message board and through its email list, on message boards and newsletters, and through the Keeping Pace blog and website. The survey was shortened in 2011 in an effort to increase the response rate, although it included questions about blended learning for the first time. While the results are not broad or deep enough to provide a representative sample across all types of online programs, it helps us identify programs of which we are not aware, and learn more about a variety of programs. There were 117 total respondents, representing 38 states.
In addition to the survey, Keeping Pace researchers received data from the three largest education management organizations operating nationwide, and most state virtual schools. We believe that our research and survey efforts are reaching the schools and programs that account for well over 50% of online and blended learning students, although nowhere close to 50% of the online and blended programs in the country, because of the long tail of distribution that represents many online programs serving a small number of students, individually and collectively.