HB 565 Creates the Missouri Course Access Program to permit public school students to enroll in certain courses to supplement coursework at the student's school of enrollment

Current Bill Summary

- Prepared by Senate Research -

HCS/HB 565 - This act creates the Missouri Course Access Program to allow public school students to enroll in online, blended, and face-to-face courses to supplement coursework offered where the student is enrolled.

This act allows any eligible participating student to enroll in state course access program courses with prior approval from his or her guidance counselor. An eligible funded student, as described in the act, may enroll in courses funded by the program up to a maximum of seven credit hours per semester. Families of eligible funded students and other eligible participating students may pay to enroll in state course access program courses above the levels specified in this act.

The local education agency where eligible funded students are enrolled full-time may review enrollment requests to ensure courses are academically appropriate, logistically feasible, keep the student on-track for an on-time graduation, and do not extend a student beyond a full-time course load. The LEA may only reject course requests for these specific reasons.

Each local education agency must inform students and families of their right to appeal any enrollment denials in state course access program courses to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The Department must provide a final enrollment decision within seven days.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education must establish an authorization process for course providers that includes multiple opportunities for submission each year. No later than ninety days from the initial submission date, the Department must authorize course providers that meet the criteria described in the act and provide courses that offer the instructional rigor and scope required. The Department must provide a written explanation to any course provider that is denied authorization no later than ninety days from the initial submission date and allow a course provider to reapply after a denial. The Department must publish the process, including any deadlines and guidelines. The Department may charge applicant providers a fee up to but no greater than the amount of the costs in order to ensure that evaluation occurs if the Department determines there are insufficient funds available for evaluating and authorizing course providers. The Department must establish and publish a fee schedule.

This act specifies actions a provider must take to be authorized. The Department must develop additional criteria to evaluate providers and may include nationally recognized third-party quality standards. The Department must establish a course review and approval process that it may implement or that it may assign to another entity to implement.

This act describes the requirements that a course must meet to be approved and added to the Missouri Course Access catalog. In addition, the Department may negotiate changes in the proposal to offer a course if it determines that changes necessary to authorize it. This act also describes the authorization, review, probation, exclusion, and reauthorization processes for course providers.

The Department may enter into a reciprocity agreement with other states for the purpose of authorizing and approving high quality provider and courses for the program and the operation of the catalog. Publishing criteria, a time frame, withdrawal dates, and an informed choice report are established in the act.

The Department must submit an annual report to the Governor and the Joint Committee on Education. The report must be published online in an open format.

School districts and charter schools must notify students and parents as part of any course enrollment period or process of the availability of program courses in correspondence that is written in simple and accurate language, provide information by letter or email to students and parents at home and by at least two other means, and publish additional information and guidelines on their websites. Each district must establish a policy and procedures for eligible participating students regarding credit toward the requirements of any approved state diploma and the administration of required state assessments. The performance data of students enrolled in such courses must be included in the school performance score for the students' school of full-time enrollment.

This act describes that the funding mechanism for the program must be paid from the Department to the local education agency and then from the LEA to the course provider for any courses in which the student is enrolled. Any remaining funds must remain with the LEA in which the student is enrolled full-time. Tuition payment to course providers will be based on student success and the ratio, as described in the act.

This program sunset after six years unless reauthorized by an act of the General Assembly.


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