Data & Information
ColoradoColorado has numerous fully online programs operating across multiple districts, district-level programs that are fully online and/or supplemental, and a small state virtual school. The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) reported 16,215 students enrolled in fully online programs in SY 2013-14, a decrease of 3% from the previous year. CDE believes the significant majority of these enrollments are full time. The source for enrollment data changed as of the 2010-11 school year. Previously, enrollment data were self-reported, but they are now available at the Colorado Department of Education website via October count reporting (see Pupil Membership by Instructional Program). The 2011 enrollment number was adjusted down by 65 students since Keeping Pace 2011 was published.
Fully online schools
The Colorado Department of Education Unit of Online Learning reports 58 online options for students in the state on its website, 26 of which offer a fully online option.
The five fully online multi-district charters are:
- Colorado Calvert Academy
- Colorado Virtual Academy
- Guided Online Academic Learning (GOAL) Academy
- Hope Online Learning Academy Co-Op
- Provost Online Academy
The 21 full-time, multi-district programs are:
- Academy Online High School
- Boulder Universal
- Branson School Online
- College Pathways (The Classical Academy)
- Colorado Connections Academy
- Colorado Preparatory Academy
- Denver Online High School
- Edison Academy
- Engage Online Academy
- Falcon Virtual Academy
- Great Plains Academy
- Insight School of Colorado
- Jeffco’s 21st Century Virtual Academy
- Karval Online Education
- Monte Vista Online Academy
- PSD Global Academy
- Southwest Colorado eSchool (San Juan BOCES)
- Thompson Online
- Vilas Online
State virtual school
In addition, Colorado Online Learning (COL), another supplemental statewide program not included in the enrollment total from CDE, reported 1,007 course enrollments in 2012-13, a 36% decrease from SY 2011-12.
The Colorado Department of Education Unit of Online Learning reports 31 district-level programs.
The 10 single-district online schools are:
- 70 Online (Pueblo 70)
- APS Online (Aurora Public Schools)
- BOLT Academy (Brighton 27J)
- Buena Vista Online Academy
- Cañon Online Academy
- Center Virtual Academy(Center)
- Delta Virtual Academy (Delta County)
- Focus Academy (Fremont RE-2)
- Grande River Virtual Academy (Mesa County #51)
- St. Vrain Online Global Academy
- World Academy (Eagle County)
The 17 single-district online programs are:
- Clear Creek Online Academy
- Colorado Courseware A+nyWhere Learning System (Garfield 16)
- D3 My Way (Widefield)
- Heartlight Academy Online (N. Conejos)
- Holyoke Alternative School
- LPS@home (Littleton)
- Mountain eCademy(Cripple Creek)
- PCHS Online (Platte Canyon RE-1)
- Peak Virtual Academy (Montrose)
- RHS Online (Weld RE 5J Johnstown-Milliken)
- Ridge Academy (Pueblo 60)
- South Park Online
- Tigers Online Program (East Otero)
- Trinidad Online (Trinidad)
- Virtual Village – Lake George Charter School
- Westminster Virtual Academy
- Woodland Park Online Program District RE-2
The four supplemental online programs are:
- Colorado Online Learning (the state virtual school)
- Cherry Creek School District (in-district only)
- JeffCo’s 21st Century Virtual Academy
- Summit High Online (in-district only)
Online learning policy history
The current online learning policy framework dates to December 2006 when the Office of the State Auditor released an audit reviewing full-time online programs and the performance of the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) in overseeing online programs. The Trujillo Commission, formed in response to the audit, and a task force formed by the State Board of Education, suggested recommendations for legislators and expressed concerns about the lack of oversight of full-time online programs. In response, the legislature passed SB215 in May 2007, which made numerous changes to online education regulations. The key elements, among many details of the bill, were:
- A distinction between multi-district online programs and single-district programs; while both types of programs must submit an annual report to the CDE, the multi-district online programs are subject to greater oversight because the authorizers of multidistrict programs must be state certified as demonstrating capacity to run an online program.
- A requirement that online programs that use physical facilities in which students meet enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the district in which the physical facility is located.
- Removal of the existing prohibition on funding online students who were not public school students in the prior year, as of June 2008. According to the 2009 summary report, “the repeal of this requirement allowed an additional 2,031 students to enroll in Colorado’s Online Programs for the 2008-09 school year.”
Another important provision of the law was the creation of a new division within CDE to facilitate certification of multi-district online programs. The Unit of Online Education began operations in October 2007 and was tasked with first addressing the statutory requirements of SB215, including the creation of new quality standards that are now a cornerstone of the rules for the online program accreditation process. The Unit is focused on facilitating the certification of programs; as well as providing support for parents, students, authorizers and other entities related to online learning by providing information and access to available data. A second online education law, HB1037, passed in Colorado in 2007 and was initially written to sunset in 2010; however, HB1066 was passed in 2010 to repeal its deadline. HB1037 provides $480,000 annually to fund a Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) to contract with a provider to provide online courses to school districts across the state for no more than $200 per student per semester. Colorado Online Learning (COL), a 501(c)3 organization that grew out of the Colorado Online School Consortium in response to a series of task forces created by the state over several years, was selected as the statewide provider by the Mountain BOCES at the conclusion of its original RFP process. It has been renewed each year since 2007.
Per-pupil revenue (PPR), a full-time equivalency (FTE) funding model that sets a minimum level of funding and is adjusted upward based on a number of factors for brick-and-mortar districts, remains at the state minimum for online students in multi-district programs. Single-district online schools are funded at the district per-pupil revenue rate, receiving the same funding as the brick-and-mortar schools in that district. Funding is limited to 1.0 FTE per student and may be split in half but not into smaller units. In cases where students are taking more than half of an FTE class load in two schools, the districts involved negotiate the payment split or, in rare cases, the split is determined by the CDE.
From 2009-11, the CDE Unit of Online Learning released its annual Summary Report of the Operations and Activities of Online Programs in Colorado, which is among the best examples of online program activity reporting in any state. However, HB11-1277 (2011) significantly reduced these reporting requirements to every three years, easing the administrative burden on online programs but potentially reducing the amount of information available to stakeholders. The law also removed the time period for which certification of online schools is granted. Online programs remain certified indefinitely until the Unit of Online Learning has reason to believe the program is not in substantial compliance with one or more of the statutory or regulatory requirements.
A series of recent bills affect online programs and students:
- HB12-1124 (2012) “directs the department of education to commission a study of the issues surrounding integration of digital learning into the statewide system of public education in Colorado.” The study will be completed and submitted to the state board of education, the governor, and the education committee of the General Assembly by January 31, 2013. The bill also includes definitions of on-line learning, digital learning, blended learning, and supplemental on-line courses.
- HB12-1240 (2012) states that if a program has more than 100 full- or part-time students, it has to apply for a school code.
- HB12-1212 (2012) clarifies that a BOCES can no longer authorize a single district program; only a single district can authorize a single district online program.
In addition, the State Board of Education updated the quality standards for online programs in January 2012. The rules were “amended to incorporate changes to financial reporting and accountability … [and] to align the evaluation criteria for Online Programs with the evaluation criteria established by SB 09-163 (the Education Accountability Act of 2009).”
Finally, the Colorado Department of Education has released a series of reports in recent years designed to better understand online learners and the online learning landscape in Colorado.
- Blended Learning in Rural Colorado: Status and Strategies for Expansion (July 2012) surveyed Colorado’s 139 rural districts and BOCES to identify current online and blended learning options for K-12 students and teachers. The report identified three recommendations for expansion:
- Increase broadband access,
- Provide examples of successful blended learning case studies as exemplars, and
- Address funding inequities and outdated rules that restrict the expansion of blended learning.
- A Study of Online Learning: Perspectives of Online Learners and Educators (2012) surveyed online students, parents, and staff of online schools to better understand the motivations of online learners and previous experiences in brick-and-mortar classrooms.
- Characteristics of Colorado’s Online Students utilized data from the Colorado Basic Literacy Act, the Colorado Student Assessment Program, and the October and end-of-year student counts to look at students in three groups: grades K-3, grades 3-9, and secondary success / graduates / postsecondary readiness. It analyzed demographics, trends, and performance in online schools using data collected from 2003 through 2011.
- Updates the definitions of “on-line program” and “on-line school” to allow those programs to have more flexibility in how they serve students.
- States that the records of students who transfer schools will transfer in 14 days (decreased from 30).
- Requires online schools to document student attendance and participation, and clarifies the activities that may be included in those calculations.
- Notes the task force recommendation that CDE no longer directly certify multi-district online schools, but rather certify the authorizers of these schools and eliminate its own school-level certification process. To do so, the bill creates a task force charged with identifying high-quality standards for authorizers of online programs; it will make recommendations to the state board and legislature. The task force also will oversee the development of pilot programs to begin in SY 2015-16 to test innovative initiatives in online education.
2014: In January 2014, a task force convened with the intention of improving “the quality of education for all students in Colorado who use online learning as part or all of their access to learning.” The commission released its final report in March 2014, and its recommendations resulted in the passage of HB1382 (2014), which accomplishes the following:
Colorado has fully blended schools operating in a number of districts throughout the state.
last updated October 9, 2014back to map