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Statewide Virtual Schools See Historic Growth with Blackboard
Apr 20, 2010 (04:04 PM EDT)


Growing Number of States Invest in Online Education with Blackboard

WASHINGTON, April 20 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Statewide virtual schools are experiencing historic growth as states invest more in online education, even in a difficult economy. Many virtual schools have selected Blackboard Inc. (Nasdaq: BBBB) as their technology partner, including Florida Virtual School, the nation's largest, which announced a partnership with Blackboard in January.

Twenty-seven states have established statewide virtual schools in an effort to increase educational opportunity for students, and together they saw 320,000 course enrollments in 2008-09 according to Keeping Pace with K-12 Online Learning, a report from the Evergreen Education Group. Many of those schools – 10 statewide virtuals – have partnered with Blackboard to support their online education programs.

The Idaho Digital Learning Academy (IDLA) has seen an average 50 percent growth year over year working with Blackboard, increasing from 6,619 enrollments in 2008 to 14,500 this year. In addition to saving schools and families money, the academy saves the state nearly $4 million a year in teacher salaries, district costs for student remediation, and out of pocket costs families must pay for online classes from other providers, according to estimates from IDLA CEO Donna Hutchison.

"We don't have the ability to offer the depth and breadth of course options that larger schools do," said Benjamin Merrill, Principal at Notus High School in rural Notus, Idaho. "IDLA has opened the doors for students throughout the state to have the same opportunities to take classes they need to be successful, like foreign languages and advanced math. It really has leveled the playing field."

North Carolina Virtual Public School (NCVPS), another fast growing Blackboard partner, has expanded by more than 50 percent annually in recent years and now serves some 66,000 students, up from just 5,000 three years ago.

"Blackboard has executed on our needs for classic, blended, modular, and mobile virtual services," said Dr. Bryan Setser, Executive Director of the NCVPS. "As state virtual schools continue to lead the online industry, Blackboard will be a key solution partner as learning continues to get more personal and portable."

Virtual schools have brought greater choice and flexibility to students by providing greater access to a high quality curriculum and highly qualified teachers. In many cases, students have enjoyed access to advanced placement and dual credit opportunities that have helped some students graduate from high school early while preventing others from dropping out. As these options become more popular, new expectations for online courses and professional development opportunities are being set; research conducted by Project Tomorrow supported by Blackboard shows increased demand for online opportunities from students and teachers nationwide.

"Forward thinking states have realized that rather than having every district create their own online learning program, a statewide virtual school can accelerate the state's goals much more effectively and for much less money," said Jessie Woolley-Wilson, President of Blackboard K-12. "We are fortunate to partner with many of these states, many of whom are looking to expand their virtual offerings over time by leveraging the U.S. Department of Education's Race to the Top program. Continued growth in virtual schools will enhance equity and access, promote student progression and will help drive 21st century learning experiences for students nationwide."

For more information about Blackboard, please visit http://blackboard.com.

About Blackboard Inc.

Blackboard Inc. (Nasdaq: BBBB) is a global leader in enterprise technology and innovative solutions that improve the experience of millions of students and learners around the world every day. Blackboard's solutions allow thousands of higher education, K-12, professional, corporate, and government organizations to extend teaching and learning online, facilitate campus commerce and security, and communicate more effectively with their communities. Founded in 1997, Blackboard is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.

Any statements in this press release about future expectations, plans and prospects for Blackboard and other statements containing the words "believes," "anticipates," "plans," "expects," "will," and similar expressions, constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual results may differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements as a result of various important factors, including the factors discussed in the "Risk Factors" section of our Form 10-K filed on February 17, 2010 with the SEC. In addition, the forward-looking statements included in this press release represent the Company's views as of April 20, 2010. The Company anticipates that subsequent events and developments will cause the Company's views to change. However, while the Company may elect to update these forward-looking statements at some point in the future, the Company specifically disclaims any obligation to do so. These forward-looking statements should not be relied upon as representing the Company's views as of any date subsequent to April 20, 2010.

SOURCE Blackboard Inc.