As university athletes report for practice and begin balancing course requirements with the rigors of college sports, high school students across the country are considering a different balancing act: Do I continue in the online public school that provides me with an individualized instructional program and the flexibility to participate in competitive athletic programs or do I return to the traditional classroom that may restrict my athletic training and limit the amount of customized instruction I receive?
Unfortunately, many student athletes no longer have this choice.
NCAA recently announced that starting in the 2014-15 school year, they would no longer accept coursework from many of the online public schools served by K12 Inc. These schools are working in earnest to overturn NCAA’s decision as many enrolled students hope to play Division I or II sports.
In an earlier response, Jeff Kwitowski, SVP of K12 Public Affairs wrote:
“NCAA does not provide schools any measurable standard or rubric used to determine what they believe is a suitable level of student-teacher interaction. Despite repeated requests, the NCAA will not publish specific student-teacher interaction guidelines for nontraditional courses, including online and digital courses. These vague standards and unclear review process leave schools to only guess what passes NCAA’s eligibility test. This is a significant concern for all schools and districts that use digital learning programs.”
Prominent digital learning experts including Michael Horn from the Clayton Christensen Institute, and Tom VanderArk from Getting Smart (and board member of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning), have sharply criticized the NCAA on its actions:
NCAA Way Out of Bounds for Outlawing Online by Tom Vander Ark
NCAA Goofs On Online Eligibility by Michael Horn
The NCAA is a private entity. Its role is to examine individual student eligibility for college athletics, not to act as a de facto regulatory body over state-approved public schools. That is the responsibility of state boards and departments of education, and elected officials. This exact point was made by Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, who recently wrote to the NCAA questioning why they are encroaching in the authority of state governments.
All public schools that partner with K12 are approved and overseen by the states. Teachers are state-certified and regularly interact with students, providing direct instruction, guidance, feedback, and support services. Hundreds of student athletes have graduated from K12’s partner schools and been accepted into Division I and II colleges and universities.
In the coming weeks we will be highlighting a few of these student athletes whom have graduated from online schools and who have continued to excel in their post-secondary education and athletic pursuits.
Their stories of high academic achievement as online public school students and as high achieving student-athletes in colleges and universities illustrate the incongruity of the NCAA’s decision and why it must be changed.