Michael Q. McShane

THE PROBLEM: All across Missouri, students lack access to higher-level coursework such as AP courses, calculus, and physics.

THE SOLUTION: Course access.

Course access programs allow students to direct a portion of their annual per-pupil funds to take—and receive college credit for—courses outside of their traditional public school course offerings.

WHO ELSE DOES IT? Eleven states across the country have some form of course access program.

THE OPPORTUNITY: Missouri has much of the infrastructure needed to create a course access program through an underused program known as the Missouri Virtual Instruction Program (MoVIP), which was signed into law in 2006. In addition, the Grandview R-II and Springfield school districts have created their own online programs, but these courses are not available to all students in the state. In all three cases, the course offerings are vetted by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and can be credited toward graduation.


  • During the 2015–2016 school year, of the 448 school districts that offer high school in the state, 9% had no students enrolled in chemistry, 42% had none enrolled in advanced physics, 40% had none enrolled in calculus, and 63% had none enrolled in AP courses.
  • Course access allows students a cost-effective way to take courses not otherwise available in their district.
  • Course access increases parent/individual control over education spending.
  • Missouri already has the infrastructure needed to create a course access program.


Essay: Course Access in Missouri: Diversity, Personalization, and Opportunity

Blog Post: Missouri Students Need Access to Advanced Coursework

Video: Course Access: Opening Opportunities across Missouri

Video: Course Access Brings the Classroom to the Student


For a printable version of this article, click on the link below. You can also view the entire 2018 Missouri Blueprint online.

About the Author

Michael McShane
Senior Fellow of Education Policy

Mike McShane is Senior Fellow of Education Policy for the Show-Me Institute. He is a former high school teacher and earned his PhD in Education Policy at the University of Arkansas. Before coming to the Show-Me Institute, Mike worked at the American Enterprise Institute as a research fellow.