Jingle All the Way! Beacon Explains: Course Access


December 16, 2015 1:58PM

As we prepare to celebrate Christmas with family and friends, we’re also reminded more overtly during this season of each individual’s distinct tastes and differences. After all, as we try to keep up with the rat race at malls and area shops, many of us will be looking for distinct gifts to fit the interests and preferences of a loved one that may widely differ from our own. Yet, while we have become accustomed to a world that allows for individuals to highly customize anything from their music, to the cars they drive, to the apps on their phones, to the types of coffee they order, we’ve yet to see this sort of targeted approach to one of the most critical responsibilities we, as a society, are charged with— and that’s educating the next generation.

Fortunately, with the ringing in of the New Year, we can ring in a new frontier of more individualized education for Tennessee children. One of the reforms to watch in the 2016 legislative session is “course access,” a policy that allows students to enhance their traditional classroom experience with courses that may not be available in their own school. This includes instruction offered by trade schools, colleges, and online learning centers.

Course access enables students, parents, and educators to develop more personalized and collaborative approaches to achieve a child’s academic goals. Rather than being forced to pay costly and often unaffordable tuition to a private school or elective instructional centers, students remain enrolled at their public school and select specific courses through online, private, or other public providers to fill a specific academic requirement. For example, if a student would like to take Chinese language arts because she intends to major in international business in college, she may find that her current school doesn’t offer those courses. With course access, students have the freedom to look outside the four walls of their school and find the courses that best suit their academic goals.

These extended options also help school districts innovate and partner with one another to share resources, which may include serving advanced placement students or those with medical challenges across district lines. Such collaboration among school districts could not only improve student opportunities, but also save taxpayers money.

To learn more about course access, visit here and watch this video by Excellence in Education, which further explains how course access works and shares real life stories of several students who have found success by choosing this exciting new option. It’s time for Tennessee to offer this extraordinary gift to our own students.