2012 -- H 7126 SUBSTITUTE A AS AMENDED
A N A C T
RELATING TO EDUCATION - STATEWIDE VIRTUAL EDUCATION
Introduced By: Representatives McNamara, Ferri, Azzinaro, Diaz, and Ruggiero
Date Introduced: January 17, 2012
It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:
SECTION 1. Title 16 of the General Laws entitled "EDUCATION" is hereby amended
by adding thereto the following chapter:
THE STATEWIDE VIRTUAL EDUCATION ACT
16-22.1-1. Short title. – This chapter shall be known as and may be cited as “The Rhode
16-22.1-2. Legislative findings. – The legislature hereby finds and declares the
(1) A well-educated
enhances the standard of living for all of its citizens, increases its capacity for success, and lays
the foundation for shared prosperity.
(2) Students in
and institutions should be able to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible to support
and extend their learning. Their learning opportunities should allow them to acquire the
knowledge and technology skills that will allow them to contribute to and participate in a digital
(3) The number and type of virtual learning programs and courses have increased
considerably, and the prevalence of virtual learning continues to grow. Virtual learning utilizes
the power and scalability of technology to remove the constraints of traditional classroom
learning, which can allow
any place, and in ways that complement and extend traditional school settings.
(4) Public schools,
school districts, and postsecondary institutions in
have the freedom to work with teachers, families, and students to create customizable learning
opportunities that incorporate technology and reflect effective practices.
(5) The freedom that comes from technologically-supported opportunities to learn must
be accompanied by a clear responsibility to ensure that such opportunities are of high quality,
consistent with state standards for teaching and instruction, fulfill high school graduation
requirements, reflect the principles of equity and access, and include accountability provisions
that assure citizens that any investment of public tax dollars is well spent.
policies on virtual education that will create the optimal conditions for effective learning and
(7) The general assembly therefore finds that it is in the best interests of the people of the
comprehensive regulations that will result in high quality, integrated virtual K-20 learning
experiences that will engage and challenge students through structured, sustained study.
16-22.1-3. Purpose. – The purpose of this chapter is to provide access to high quality,
rigorous, and relevant online learning opportunities for all
students and to ensure promulgation of virtual learning regulations supporting access to high
quality virtual instruction consistently throughout the state.
16-22.1-4. Definitions. – When used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the
(1) “Board” means the
(3) “Course” means a course of study consistent with subdivision 16-1-5(4) and that
meets the requirements of the basic education program.
(4) “School district”
means local education agencies in
municipalities and those entities established under sections 16-77.2-1, 16-77.3, and 16-77.4.
(5) “Teacher of record” means the teacher responsible for content instruction and
determining student grades.
(6) “Virtual course” means a course in which:
(i) Instruction and content are delivered primarily through technology, including over the
Internet, via television, and through multi-media;
(ii) A student and teacher may be in physically different locations for a portion of the
student’s instructional period;
(iii) Most instructional activities take place in a technology-supported environment;
(iv) The technology-supported instructional activities are integral to the students’
(v) Extensive communication between a student and a teacher and among students is
(vi) A student is not necessarily required to be located on the physical premises of a
(7) “Virtual course provider” means:
A public school district or school in
(A) Students enrolled in that district or school; or
(B) Students enrolled in another school district or school;
(ii) An accredited
public or private institution of higher education in
another state that provides virtual courses or programs to students attending public schools in
(iii) A not-for-profit or for-profit organization whose work includes offering virtual
courses or programs to students attending public schools in
16-22.1-5. Regulations for virtual learning. – With the direction and approval of the
board of regents for elementary and secondary education, the commissioner for elementary and
secondary education shall develop and promulgate regulations
and other educational organizations that are using or intend to use virtual courses and other online
learning opportunities with K-12 students and adult learners. The regulations shall include:
(1) Objective, standard criteria that ensures virtual courses and content for K-12 students
are aligned with state content standards, meet or exceed the requirements of the state’s basic
education program, fulfill high school graduation requirements, and promote articulation with
public higher education institutions in the state;
(2) Objective, standard criteria for school districts to use to select quality providers of
virtual courses and online content, which may include local school districts, not-for-profit and
for-profit postsecondary institutions, and other organizations;
(3) Objective, standard criteria that ensures teachers of virtual courses and other online
learning activities are appropriately trained and qualified and meet certification requirements set
forth by the commissioner of education;
(4) Objective, standard criteria that ensures that local policies shall not limit student
access to quality online learning opportunities;
(5) Objective, standard criteria that school districts can use to ensure that all learners in
Rhode Island have access to high quality, rigorous, and relevant virtual courses and other online
(6) Objective, standard procedures that school districts shall use to report and verify the
attendance and participation of a student enrolled in a virtual course;
(7) Standard accountability provisions that ensure school districts monitor students
enrolled in virtual courses and other online learning activities and when appropriate, report on
student progress and performance using grade-appropriate and content-appropriate assessments;
(8) Objective, standard criteria that ensures that RIDE participates in statewide efforts to
support virtual learning education with a focus on student access to quality online learning
opportunities and ensuring efficiencies gained by coordinating resources;
(9) Any other
requirements or limitations for virtual courses in
16-22.1-6. Oversight, quality assurance, reporting, and evaluation of virtual courses.
– (a) The commissioner shall utilize existing evaluation processes and protocols established
through regulations adopted by the board of regents to ensure student access to quality and
effective online content and instruction.
(b) Quality assurance reporting shall occur through the existing comprehensive data
collection, analysis and accountability procedures at both the local and state level.
(c) The commissioner shall prepare a report each fiscal year that documents the
conditions under which virtual education supports student
(1) Virtual course participation rates, with participation information disaggregated for
core content areas;
(2) Expenditures related to virtual education, in aggregate and by district;
(3) The results of student assessments for students participating in virtual education in
core content areas, disaggregated from overall district data; and
(4) Any other information the commissioner deems relevant.
(d) The commissioner’s report shall be delivered to the speaker of the house of
representatives and to the president of the senate by January 31 of each year, and the information
posted for public inspection on the
16-22.1-7. Cooperation with public institutions of higher education. – In partnership
with the commissioner of higher education, the commissioner of elementary and secondary
education shall promote access to high quality virtual courses for all public elementary,
secondary, and postsecondary students.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon passage.