Ortitay Online Education Bill Passes State House
– Rep. Jason Ortitay’s (R-Washington/Allegheny) legislation to increase online learning opportunities in the Commonwealth gained bipartisan support today from the House of Representatives.
His legislation, House Bill 1915
, would task the Department of Education (PDE) with establishing a clearinghouse of online courses, for students in grades 6-12, to be accessible to public schools, nonpublic schools, home education programs and the general public. The bill would designate the online learning clearinghouse the “Supplemental Online Course Initiative.”
“Over the past decade, dramatic advancements in technology have given rise to increasingly innovative and personalized models of instruction,” Ortitay said. “During that time, schools, individuals, academic institutions and third-party organizations have been innovative and forward thinking in establishing unique, online learning opportunities for students.
“This initiative will harness their innovation by providing access to those courses to students all across the state, in places where such learning opportunities might not have otherwise been available,” Ortitay said.
Specifically, the bill would establish a two-phase implementation schedule. In the first phase, which would begin with the 2017-18 school year, the clearinghouse would offer courses related to content being tested in the Keystone Exams at no cost. In the second phase, which would begin with the 2018-19 school year, the clearinghouse would also offer other online courses from providers, subject to purchase.
The online clearinghouse would provide access to only those courses approved by PDE. To ensure high-quality options for students, the bill would require PDE to construct the clearinghouse in a way that provides clear information on each course and offers users the ability to provide feedback and course ratings.
“This initiative will give public schools, which might not otherwise be able to afford similar educational opportunities, the flexibility and ability to make use of online learning the betterment of their students,” Ortitay said.
According to the legislation, if a school entity would decide to offer participation in the initiative, that entity must also establish its own policies and procedures for governing eligibility and participation, and making parents and students aware of the opportunity.
House Bill 1915 can now be considered by the Senate.
Representative Jason Ortitay
46th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Morgan Wagner