Online Learning

Online learning provides a unique way for students to continue, expand or enhance their education. Online learning offers students the ability to engage in learning opportunities they have not had access to before. Some online learning combines traditional classroom courses and online courses at the student's local school, while others allow students to attend classes from home and other locations.

Minnesota public school students may enroll in a full-time online program or they may choose to take supplemental courses (taken in place of a course period during the regular school day). All online courses offered through department-approved programs are:

  • Taught by Minnesota licensed teachers.
  • Meet or exceed state academic standards.
  • Transfer to other public school districts.
  • Apply toward high school graduation.

All department-approved online learning providers must, as a part of the approval process, outline expectations for actual teacher contact time, student-to-teacher communication, student participation (attendance), and provide definitions for progress, completion, hours online, excused/unexcused absence, and report absence for purposes of compulsory attendance.

Students who live with parents in Minnesota are considered residents for purposes of generating state aid (SAC 15). Students on extended family trips (for example, students traveling outside Minnesota) are considered non-Minnesota residents while they are outside Minnesota and are ineligible to generate Minnesota state aid (MARRS Manual, Appendix K, p. 350).

The guiding document used by School Finance to determine residency is a 1985 Attorney General Opinion. According to that opinion, the Minnesota Supreme Court held that in the context of section 120A.20 (formerly 120.06), the term “residency” does not require an intent to remain indefinitely, and is to be distinguished from the more restrictive term “domicile”. In the context of education, residency is based upon physical presence and a “determination of the source and location of the child’s care and financial support.” In other words, when a child is within a district for the purpose of receiving “personal care, attention, supervision and nurture, such as is usually provided in a home, such child is a resident of the district.”

When students are not physically present in Minnesota and are receiving all “personal care, supervision and nurture” from their parent/legal guardian outside of Minnesota, the students is no longer be considered  a resident of Minnesota and is not eligible to generate state aid.

Online Learning is Not New
Online learning is not a new educational delivery model, but it is one that is different than what most students experience in a bricks-and-mortar classroom. Approved public online programs provide information to orient students and parents to the world of online learning, and after a student enrolls in an approved supplemental or full-time program, technologies and people are in place to help students reach their educational goals.
Each of the approved programs has its own website. However, some online learning language may get in the way of understanding the information provided. The documents below will help you understand terms and find a program. Access the Online Learning Vocabulary for a list common online learning terms and definitions.

Minnesota Approved Public Online Learning Providers
Access to and the quality of online learning in Minnesota is governed by statute language. These are limited to public school providers (public school districts, intermediate districts, school districts operating under a Joint Powers of Agreement (JPA), and charter schools) that provide online learning in department-approved programs. The process for becoming an approved online provider includes ongoing annual reporting and a three-year review process. Parents, students, and other stakeholders may access information about the MDE approval process for public online learning providers on the Minnesota Office of Revisor Statutes page.

Students over the age of 21 seeking a Minnesota GED Diploma are encouraged to read MDE's warning regarding misleading GED claims.

Accreditation and Accrediting Agencies for Non-Public-school Providers
Parents, students, and other stakeholders can find information about the accreditation of non-public school providers on the Non-Public Education Council page. Resources about accreditation of online schools is offered by the U.S. Department of Education. Please see the list of Related offsite resources provided. 

  •  - 9/9/21
    List of approved K-12 public online learning providers in Minnesota.
  • Online Learning Supplemental Notice of Student Registration Form - 2/4/19
    Form for student to submit to apply for a supplemental online learning course from a MDE approved public school online learning provider.
  •  - 11/7/14