Minnesota may be a leader in one new development in education, but there’s a long ways to go.
The news comes from Digital Learning Now (DLN), which describes itself as “a national campaign to advance policies that will create a high quality digital learning environment to better prepare students.” (For a very quick introduction of digital learning, see this FAQ.)
How well does Minnesota do? DLN says “Minnesota has the opportunity to lead the nation in transforming education for the digital age. Minnesota has a lot of choices for students and provides opportunities for students to accelerate their learning.”
Each state can earn points through how is stacks up on 72 items that measure state policy on the 10 elements. The report doesn’t offer a ranking of the 50 states, as the report cards are tentative. But so far, Minnesota is doing well.
In fact, if you simply look at the number of metrics that a state has “achieved,” Minnesota has satisfied more (47) than Florida (41), the state usually cited as the leader in digital learning. I peeked at the scores for a few other states that I thought might have a higher score–and none did. A few (Pennsylvania, Virginia) came close.
Minnesota’s advantage over Florida can be explained entirely by its score on “quality choices.” Minnesota had a score of 12; Florida had a score of just 4. This set of metrics focuses on the supply side: Can students can choose from a large variety of providers, or j ust a few? Can, for example, they take classes from a number of school districts or charter schools, or only from a single statewide agency? I attribute Minnesota’s high score in this set to its history with charter schools, which encourage a diversity of educational providers.
Right now, digital learning is in its infancy. There’s no better time, then, to review state policies, for it’s policy, rather than technology, that could limit its usefulness.