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Study: MO Must Step Up Digital Education to Meet Top 10 By ’20 Goal

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The Missouri Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation has released a report that it says shows Missouri must offer more digital learning options to K-12 students if it wants to be one of the top 10 states for education by 2020.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation has released a report that it says shows Missouri must offer more digital learning options to K-12 students if it wants to be one of the top 10 states for education by 2020.

Evergreen Education Group CEO John Watson (at podium) discusses "K-12 Digital Learning in Missouri," joined by Chamber president Dan Mehan (left) and Brian Crouse, vice president of the Chamber's Education Foundation.

Evergreen Education Group CEO John Watson (at podium) discusses “K-12 Digital Learning in Missouri,” joined by Chamber president Dan Mehan (left) and Brian Crouse, vice president of the Chamber’s Education Foundation.

The study was conducted by Colorado-based Evergreen Education Group. CEO John Watson says one of its key findings is that Missouri needs to offer a statewide, publicly-funded online school.

“There are some districts across Missouri that are offering these types of options for students,” says Watson, “but we remain in a time where those options are not available to all students across all of Missouri. In 2014, these options simply should be available. There’s no reason students across the state can’t have access to a full range of online and blended learning options.”

Watson acknowledges that Missouri, like other states, would have to make improvements to its broadband infrastructure, but he says that’s no reason to wait on efforts to expand online education opportunities.

“Our view,” Watson says, “is that we don’t want to wait for broadband to be available everywhere to start putting some resources into these new types of programs. It really has to be a parallel effort where we’re creating new opportunities for students and the state is creating the infrastructure so that students across the state can access them.”

Watson says his group has found that increased investment in and focus on digital public education can be cost-neutral to a state.

“A sustainable funding structure for online schools should be tapping into the funding formula that is funding students now, and if a student is going into an online school that funding should follow the student into that online school.”

Legislation being offered by Senator Ed Emery (R-Lamar) and that will be offered by Representative Kathy Swan (R-Cape Girardeau) will address online learning options.

View an overview of the report here, and read the full report here.

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