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42 U.S. Code § 19173 - Opportunities for online education

(a) In general

The Director shall make competitive awards to institutions of higher education or nonprofit organizations (or a consortium thereof, which may include a private sector partner) to conduct research on online STEM education courses for rural communities.

(b) Research areasThe research areas eligible for funding under this subsection shall include—
evaluating the learning and achievement of rural students in prekindergarten through grade 12 in STEM subjects;
understanding how computer-based and online professional development courses and mentor experiences can be integrated to meet the needs of educators, principals, and other school leaders of rural students in prekindergarten through grade 12;
combining computer-based and online STEM education and training with mentoring and other applied learning arrangements;
leveraging online programs to supplement STEM studies for rural students that need physical and academic accommodation; and
any other activity the Director determines will accomplish the goals of this subsection.
(c) Evaluations

All proposals for awards under this section shall include an evaluation plan that includes the use of outcome-oriented measures to assess the impact and efficacy of the award. Each recipient of an award under this subsection shall include results from these evaluative activities in annual and final projects.

(d) Accountability and dissemination
(1) Evaluation requiredThe Director shall evaluate the portfolio of awards made under this subsection. Such evaluation shall—
use a common set of benchmarks and tools to assess the results of research conducted under such awards and identify best practices; and
to the extent practicable, integrate findings from activities carried out pursuant to research conducted under this section, with respect to the pursuit of careers and degrees in STEM, with those activities carried out pursuant to other research on serving rural students and communities.
(2) Report on evaluationsNot later than 180 days after the completion of the evaluation under paragraph (1), the Director shall submit to Congress and make widely available to the public a report that includes—
the results of the evaluation; and
any recommendations for administrative and legislative action that could optimize the effectiveness of the awards made under this section.
(e) Coordination

In carrying out this section, the Director shall, for purposes of enhancing program effectiveness and avoiding duplication of activities, consult, cooperate, and coordinate with the programs and policies of other relevant Federal agencies.