Data & Information
TexasMost online activity in Texas is through the Texas Virtual School Network (TxVSN), which has two components: a supplemental statewide course catalog of high school courses and the full-time TxVSN Online Schools (OLS) program for grades 3-12. In SY 2013-14 the TxVSN served 5,708 supplemental course enrollments, an annual decrease of 50%, and 10,258 full-time students, an annual increase of 22%. Texas passed legislation in 2013 that gives students the option to take up to three funded TxVSN courses each year, although with restrictions, as well as a bill that expands existing options for competency-based learning options. Texas also has some district programs in Houston, Katy, Plano, and Irving, as well as a consortium of several small rural districts in East Texas known collaboratively as SUPERNet.
Fully online schools
TxVSN also offers the TxVSN OLS program, a fully online program for public school students in grades 3-12 (grade 12 was added in SY 2012-13). Six schools are authorized by the TEA to offer fully online programs through the TxVSN OLS program—one charter school, Responsive Education Solutions’ Texas College Preparatory Academies (Texas Virtual Academy), and five independent school districts (ISDs): Grapevine- Colleyville ISD ( iUniversity Prep); Huntsville ISD (Texas Online Preparatory Elementary School, Texas Online Preparatory Middle School, and Texas Online Preparatory High School); Houston ISD (Texas Connections Academy @ Houston); Red Oak ISD (iScholars Magnet Academy of Red Oak ISD); and Texarkana ISD (Texarkana ISD Virtual Academy). There were 8,441 students served in grades 3-12 in SY 2012-13; this represents a 36% increase over the previous year. Maximum enrollment caps were removed in 2013.
State virtual school
In 2009-10, TxVSN began offering courses through which students can earn both high school and college credit (dual credit). Courses offered through the TxVSN statewide course catalog were previously funded through a separate legislative allotment which is no longer available. Historical funding details can be found in Keeping Pace 2010. Districts and open enrollment charter schools became responsible for the course cost beginning in fall 2011. Schools may use a variety of sources of funds such as Foundation School Program (FSP) and applicable local, state, federal, and grant funds.
The TxVSN was created by SB 1788 in 2007. Codified in Texas Education Code (TEC) Chapter 30A, the TxVSN is a partnership network administered by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) in coordination with Texas regional Education Service Centers (ESCs), institutions of higher education, and eligible school districts and charter schools. Centralized responsibilities include leadership, administration, operations, course review, approval of required professional development for teaching online, and funding.
High school, advanced placement, and dual credit courses that are offered to students in grades 8-12 through the TxVSN statewide course catalog are provided by eligible Texas school districts and charter schools, ESCs, and institutions of higher education. TxVSN began offering courses through its statewide course catalog in January 2009. Course enrollments grew to 17,092 between summer 2010 and spring 2011, but with the elimination of allotment funding for catalog course fees with SB1 (2011) course enrollments dropped to 12,419 in SY 2011-12, a 27% reduction, and further to 11,630, an additional 6% drop. Districts may earn state funding for students enrolled in TxVSN courses in the same manner as a student enrolled in a traditional classroom setting, regardless of whether or not the student is physically present at the school, provided that the student successfully completes the course.
Outside the TxVSN, districts decide which providers to use and what courses are authorized by the district. In order to award credit, districts must assure that a course meets all the state curriculum requirements. In order for the district to receive state funding—which is based on average daily attendance (ADA)—students must be in attendance at school and meet the normal attendance accounting rules of the state. A student may generate either part-time or full-time Foundation School Program (FSP) funding.
Grades 9-12: If an eligible student participates in courses offered through the TxVSN and is enrolled in a Texas school district or open-enrollment charter school, the student is eligible to generate state FSP funding under TEC Chapter 42 in the same manner as a student who receives instruction in a traditional classroom, provided that the student successfully completes the course. Successful course completion is defined as earning credit for the online semester course. The district is eligible to earn this FSP funding regardless of whether or not the student is physically present at school when taking the TxVSN online course.
If an eligible student who resides in Texas but is not enrolled in a Texas school district or open-enrollment charter school registers for a course through the TxVSN statewide course catalog (other than a student in foster care or certain dependents of military personnel), no state funding is provided. The student may enroll in a maximum of two courses per semester, and the TxVSN catalog course fee must be paid by the student.
Grades 3-8, TxVSN Online Schools: Students in grades 3-8 who participate in the full-time TxVSN OLS program generate state funding from the FSP based on successful program completion. Successful program completion is defined as a student having demonstrated academic proficiency sufficient to have been promoted to the next grade level. Funding is equivalent to state funding for a student enrolled full time in a traditional classroom.
Policies affecting TxVSN:
- TxVSN courses have been reviewed by the state against Texas curriculum standards; therefore districts are not required to determine alignment prior to granting credit.
- Funding for TxVSN courses is based on successful completion; districts are eligible to earn this state funding for TxVSN courses regardless of the location of the student at the time of instruction. A student may generate either part-time or full-time funding.
- A student who has begun enrollment in a course offered through the TxVSN and transfers from one educational setting to another is entitled to continue enrollment in the course.
- In addition to state policies for distance learning, there are specific program requirements and policies for districts participating in the TxVSN statewide course catalog and the TxVSN Online Schools.
Another TEA initiative, Project Share, provides student resources, professional development courses, academic networking, and professional learning communities to Texas educators and students. Online resources include OnTRACK Lessons for students, which are a series of online lessons developed at the state level and electronically distributed to districts for use at the local level. The lessons are aligned to state standards and are designed to supplement instruction in core secondary subjects (English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies). The lessons provide brief explanations of concepts introduced in class and contain videos, interactives, links to additional resources, and assessments for students to use during and after traditional school hours.
Districts may participate in the TxVSN statewide course catalog. The TEA provides state-supported online learning opportunities to students across the state through the TxVSN statewide course catalog using a network approach.
- Centralized responsibilities include leadership, administration, operations, course review, approval of required professional development for teaching online, and funding.
– TEA administers the TxVSN, sets standards for and approves TxVSN courses and professional development for online teachers, and has fiscal responsibility for the network.
– Day-to-day operation of the TxVSN is contracted to Education Service Center (ESC) Region 10, which serves as Central Operations for the network in collaboration with the Harris County Department of Education. Central Operations developed and coordinates the centralized TxVSN registration and student enrollment system, ensures eligibility of TxVSN Provider Districts, publishes an online catalog of approved courses, coordinates data needed for state reporting requirements, and reviews online courses submitted by potential Provider Districts.
– A group of professional development providers approved by TEA offers the required professional development for teaching online for the TxVSN.
- TxVSN Provider Districts provide the courses offered through the TxVSN statewide course catalog and are responsible for instruction.
- TxVSN Receiver Districts (student’s home district) approve their students’ TxVSN course requests, provide ongoing support to local students enrolled in TxVSN courses, and award credits and diplomas.
Independent school districts with a state accountability rating of Acceptable or higher; open enrollment charter schools with a state accountability rating of Recognized or higher; regional ESCs; and Texas public or private institutions of higher education may apply to become a TxVSN Provider District. Provider Districts submit courses they developed locally or acquired through a third party to the network for review by the TxVSN Course Review. Approved courses are then added to the TxVSN course catalog and become available to students across the state through the network’s centralized student enrollment system.
Some districts also run programs for their own students outside the TxVSN. These include Houston, Katy, and Irving Independent School Districts.
Online learning policy history
Texas authorizes all public schools to offer online courses to their students. SB1788 (Texas Education Code (TEC) Chapter 30A), passed by the 80th Texas Legislature in 2007, established a state virtual network to provide supplemental online courses for Texas students. HB3646(2009) created an allotment to fund courses provided through the TxVSN beginning with the 2009-10 school year. It also repealed the separate statute which created the eCP as a pilot (TEC Section 29.909) and incorporated the eCP as a program under TEC Chapter 30A beginning with the 2009-10 school year.
SB1788, passed by the 80th Texas Legislature in 2007, established a state virtual network to provide supplemental online courses for Texas students. Grades 9-12 courses offered through the TxVSN statewide course catalog are provided by Texas school districts, open enrollment charter schools, Education Service Centers, and institutions of higher education. TxVSN began offering courses through its statewide course catalog in January 2009. Course enrollments have grown dramatically from 1,806 course enrollments between summer 2009 and spring 2010, to 17,117 course enrollments between summer 2010 and spring 2011 (see Table 16). SB1 from the 82nd Texas Legislature, First Called Session, 2011 introduced changes to funding for students taking online courses through the TxVSN. Separate TxVSN allotment funding is no longer available. Districts may earn state funding for students enrolled in TxVSN courses in the same manner as a student enrolled in a traditional classroom setting, regardless of whether or not the student is physically present at the school, provided that the student successfully completes the course.
SB1 also created an instructional materials allotment (IMA) for districts for the purchase of instructional materials, technological equipment, and technology-related services. Beginning with the 2011-12 school year, the Commissioner of Education will establish a per student allotment each year for every district and open enrollment charter school based on the amount of money available in the state instructional materials fund to fund the allotment. Allotment funds are transferred from the state instructional materials fund to the credit of the district’s instructional materials account. New legislation also transfers ownership of instructional materials from the state to the local district.
HB1926 (2013) amends the legislation authorizing the TxVSN; it allows students to take up to three year long supplemental online courses, or the equivalent, each year funded by their district or open-enrollment charter school. Courses must be taken as part of the student’s normal course load, which is defined as seven credit hours per instructional year. Districts and charter schools are not required to pay for more than three courses (although a student may enroll in additional courses but may be required to pay), may deny a student’s enrollment request if the district or charter school offers a substantially similar course, and has discretion to select the course provider for the course a student requests.
Additional highlights of HB1926 (2013) include:
- Adds the option—outside the TxVSN—for a school district or open-enrollment charter school that provides a course through distance learning and seeks to inform other districts or schools of the availability of the course to submit information about the course for publication by the TEA; prevents the commissioner from adopting rules governing course pricing, allowing price to be determined by the school districts or open-enrollment charter schools involved.
- Adds nonprofits and private entities to the list of possible TxVSN statewide course catalog providers. These entities must abide by additional requirements, including providing evidence of prior successful experience offering online courses to middle or high school students by demonstrating student success in course completion and performance.
- Includes entities that provide professional development courses as eligible TxVSN course providers.
- Requires districts and open-enrollment charter schools to send a copy of the written local policy providing students with the opportunity to enroll in TxVSN online courses to parents of every middle and high school student at least once per school year.
- Clarifies the eligibility requirements for open-enrollment charter schools wishing to offer courses through the TxVSN.
- Allows the TEA to enter into reciprocity agreements with other states to facilitate expedited course approval; courses must be evaluated to ensure compliance with state law and curriculum standards. It also requires all course providers to apply for renewed course approval to coincide with revisions to the required curriculum but not later than every 10 years.
- Prohibits course providers from offering inducements for student enrollment.
- Clarifies additional details about each course that must be published on the website, including aggregate student performance. Directs the commissioner to study the network capabilities of each school district by December 1, 2015.
Texas Administrative Code (TAC), Chapter 70,314 which provides the Commissioner’s Rules guiding the TxVSN, was modified in February 2013 as follows:
- The maximum enrollment cap for fully online schools was removed.
- Eligible districts and open-enrollment charter schools do not need to go through a lengthy application and approval process, but rather can notify TEA annually that they intend to open a virtual school. Three additional districts, Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, Huntsville ISD, and Red Oak ISD opened new TxVSN online schools in fall 2013 as a result of this rule change and per waiver of the commissioner of education.
Also passed in 2013, SB1365315 expands existing opportunities for students in grades K-12 to earn credit for courses or accelerate on the basis of an examination using one of at least four exams selected by a school district board of trustees. Students who receive credit for the course are not required to take an end-of course (EOC) exam.
Outside the TxVSN
- Texas authorizes all public schools to offer online courses to their students from the provider of their choice. Districts may grant credit for a course taken outside the TxVSN if they have determined that the course meets or exceeds the state’s curriculum standards for that content area.
- In order for the district to receive state funding—which is based on average daily attendance (ADA)—students must be in attendance at school and meet the normal attendance accounting rules of the state. A student may generate either part-time or full-time funding.
- HB4294 (2011) authorized the Commissioner of Education to adopt a list of electronic textbooks.
- SB6 (2011) established the Instructional Materials Fund (IMF) using funds from the distribution of the permanent school fund. A school district is entitled to receive an annual allotment from the IMF for each student enrolled within the district. The Instructional Materials Allotment (IMA) may be used to purchase adopted and non-adopted instructional materials (including the Commissioner’s list of adopted electronic textbooks), technological equipment, and technology-related services. SB6 provides ownership of the instructional materials to the district and gives the authority to sell out-of-adoption instructional materials. The State Board of Education retains their review and adoption process. Publishers may submit updated content for both print and digital adopted instructional materials.
last updated October 20, 2014back to map