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Comprehensive Service Providers

Comprehensive service providers supply the course content, Learning Management System, Student Information System, and maybe their own teaching staff and even school management.

In turnkey systems, the district or school contracts with the provider to run the entire program. Providers supply their own teachers, or they may train local teachers in the provider’s methods. Some program or district administrators may become employees of the provider, or the provider may bring in its own management.

Payment to the provider is typically set as a portion of the state aid or tuition that the host district receives for the students enrolled in the program.

In some cases, comprehensive service providers market heavily to promote the program and increase enrollments in the school district. These additional students can come from the home school population or other districts in the state. For this reason, comprehensive service providers tend to draw more attention and more controversy than other types of content providers.

Because comprehensive service providers take on so much responsibility for the education of the program’s students, there are many questions that the program should ask before entering into an agreement. Below is a list to get you started:


  • Does the content meet state or local standards and grade level expectations?
  • Is there a particular instructional philosophy or approach to the content?
  • Who developed the content, and how often is it updated?
  • What subjects/courses are taught?
  • Can the school modify courses? What is the process for requesting changes in the content?


  • Who provides the instruction, and are the teachers licensed as necessary?
  • In the case of home-school students, what is the role of the parent in providing instruction?
  • How often do the students and teachers have synchronous contact?
  • Are student-student interactions (for more information see Types of Interactivity) expected as part of the course(s)?


  • What role does the local governing board play, and what is the relationship between the board and the provider?
  • Who is the program administrator, and what organization (the provider or the program) do they work for?
  • Who are the primary and secondary contacts for the provider and the program?
  • How does the provider ensure that they are following all necessary federal, state and local laws and policies?

Business & Marketing

  • How often are payments made to the provider, and how does the payment schedule coincide with the program’s receipt of funds from state aid or tuition payments?
  • What kind of marketing with the provider be doing and to whom?
  • What is the length of the contract, and what kind of escape clauses are in place?
  • Who is responsible for responding to complaints about the program’s business or educational practices?