Schools Should Look to Online Options Before Cutting Foreign Language and AP Courses

Tom Vander Ark writes that online offerings can help schools address tight budgets without reducing course options for students. The Georgia Virtual School run by the Georgia Department of Education offers 22 AP classes and six foreign languages including Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Spanish and Latin.

Some districts are cutting subjects like foreign language. EdWeek points to a WI example. ”According to a recent study, schools across the nation are doing the same—eliminating foreign language instruction and undermining a skill that economists and educators agree is one of the most overlooked but essential navigation skills in a global economy.”

One of the benefits of online learning is that states and districts can expand offerings and save money. Every district should offer every AP course and every language–and they should do it online with a partner provider.

States could negotiate with multiple providers (state virtual schools-their own state an others, non-profits, for-profits) and could probably get single course pricing that represents a 25-50% discount to per student funding.

Next fall (maybe even second semester) instead of 6 AP courses, districts could offer all 32 starting in January. Instead of 3 languages, they could offer a dozen. This would probably require some negotiated staffing between the district and the online partner, but it’s possible (at least at the district level) in most states.

Save some money, expand your high school offerings.

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