By Joshua Dwyer -
Thousands of students in Illinois’ rural schools lack access to the high-quality courses they need to be successful in college – that’s according to a recent report published by the National Rural Education Association.
In fact, many of these students are unable to take AP classes or are routinely offered only one foreign language option, putting them well behind their peers in other more affluent and urban parts of the state.
Thankfully, there’s a solution.
Louisiana recently began its Course Choice Program, which enables students in schools with limited course offerings to enroll in online or blended learning courses in subjects from pre-calculus to Chinese.
Though it only has been operating since August of last year, Louisiana’s Course Choice Program has been a success. Since the program began, 3,700 students have enrolled in more than 90 courses offered by 28 providers, such as Princeton Review and the Florida Virtual School, to name a few.
The program also has strict quality control measures to ensure that public money is not being wasted on courses that won’t benefit students.
According to Louisiana State School Superintendent John White, the Course Choice Program has “the greatest level of accountability that the state or any state has ever placed at the course level […] we are monitoring providers daily, will provide an annual review and be very vigilant about recommending any providers exit from the initiative if they don’t fulfill their mission.”
Try it out for yourself – simply click this link: Louisiana’s Course Choice Program. Use the zip code 70122 (New Orleans) and search for any course you like. While you won’t be able to enroll, you can look at what the marketplace might look like if Illinois adopted a similar program.
It’s time to offer students in rural Illinois an equal chance to take thehigh-quality courses they need to prepare them for college and beyond.
Joshua Dwyer is Director of Education Policy at the Illinois Policy Institute