Guidance on Distance and Digital Learning
The Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) recently updated the rules governing Distance and Digital Learning as of May 2020. Rules can be found on the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) website at DESE Rules Governing Distance and Digital Learning.
Digital Learning Providers
A “Digital Learning Provider” is an agency or entity approved by the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education pursuant to these rules that provides digital learning courses to public schools.
All Digital Providers must have an approved application on file with the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education to provide services for the upcoming school year. Digital Providers operating in the state of Arkansas, who have not updated their applications since 2018, are required to update their applications. Prospective digital learning providers shall complete the application found on DESE’S Learning Services webpage and provide the completed application no later than August 10th to be considered an approved digital provider for the 20-21 school year.
To be approved, a digital learning provider shall submit proof that the provider:
- Is nonsectarian and nondiscriminatory in its programs, employment practices, and operations;
- Demonstrates or partners with an organization that demonstrates successful experience in furnishing digital learning courses to public school students as demonstrated by student growth in each subject area and grade level for which it proposes to provide digital learning courses;
- Provides digital learning services that meet or exceed the minimum curriculum standards and requirements established by the State Board of Education;
- Ensures instructional and curricular quality through a curriculum and accountability plan that addresses every subject area and grade level for which it agrees to provide digital learning courses; and
- Utilizes qualified teachers to deliver digital learning courses to public school students.
- A qualified teacher who delivers digital learning courses under this section is not required to be licensed as a teacher or administrator by the State Board, but shall meet the minimum qualifications for teaching in a core content area established by rules of the State Board.
Digital Learning Courses
According to A.C.A. §6- 16-1406, all public school districts and open-enrollment public charter schools shall provide at least one (1) digital learning course to their students as either a primary or supplementary method of instruction.
- All distance learning courses shall follow the Arkansas Academic Standards and course frameworks regardless of digital provider. (6.02)
- Courses shall have a teacher of record who is an appropriately licensed or approved primary instructor responsible for the course. School districts are responsible for ensuring that the teacher of record in a digital learning platform is performing job responsibilities as a teacher of record. (6.03)
- Schools may utilize courses from outside the state if the out-of-state provider is approved by the Division before the school offers the courses.
- Any out-of-state provider shall provide assurances of alignment with Arkansas Academic Standards and course frameworks through the application process. (6.02.1)
- Districts that choose to offer additional digital offerings that are not currently approved for credit may offer the course for no credit or local credit only, or submit the course through the course approval process. (6.02.3)
- Distance learning that is purely supplemental instruction shall be considered an enhancement to the teacher’s regular instruction and shall not be subject to the restrictive provisions of the Distance learning and Digital Provider rules. This includes any incorporation of digital resources that does not provide the student some element of control over time, place, path, and/or pace in the delivery. (6.06)
- Distance learning courses shall be considered large group instruction courses for the purposes of the Standards for Accreditation of Arkansas Public Schools and School Districts. (6.07)
- Public school districts and open-enrollment public charter schools that provide digital learning courses to their own students without the assistance of an external digital learning provider are not required to seek approval as a digital learning provider pursuant to these rules. (9.04)
- Public school districts and open-enrollment public charter schools that provide digital learning courses to students other than their own students without the assistance of an external digital learning provider are required to seek approval as digital learning providers pursuant to these rules. (9.05)
DESE will continue to publish a list of approved digital learning providers that offer digital learning services on DESE’S Learning Services webpage. Approved Digital Providers Course List
Rubric for Digital Providers
Digital Provider Application
Rules Governing Distance and Digital Learning