2002: Public-Private Partnership: In February 2002, Gov. Gary Locke, concerned by the changing world of education, created a task force to study the use of technological resources in education. The result was the Digital Learning Commons (DLC), a public-private partnership that would offer online tools and courses, many of them Advanced Placement courses.
The DLC would operate from one Website and provide three main services:
The number of students taking courses through the DLC steadily increased, going from 506 to 1,007 between the 2005-06 and 2008-2009 school years. The Legislature ended funding of the DLC in 2009.
Aside from the DLC, state laws and policies continued to operate as if online schools simply didn’t exist.
2000-2005: Formalizing Online Learning: In 2005, a few legislators began to recognize the potential of online education. It was time to make some policy changes that would formalize online learning’s place in Washington law, and begin to integrate online learning into the state’s system of public education.
In 2004, Reps. Gigi Talcott and Kathy Haigh with the enthusiastic support of Rep. Dave Quall, the Chairman of the House Education Committee, drafted a bill and introduced it to the Legislature. House Bill 2704 would have allowed Basic Education funding to follow students outside traditional classrooms when they have direct electronic contact with their teacher. It passed the House and the Senate Education Committee, but died in the Senate.
In 2005 Sen. Tracey Eide carried the idea forward in Senate Bill 5828. It passed unanimously and was signed into law. Most significantly, SB 5828 designated online learning as an official “Alternative Learning Experience” program (ALE), meaning OSPI could now include students enrolled in online learning programs for Basic Education funding.
SB 5828 also mandated: