Regional service agencies

Updated September 25, 2018

Forty-five states have some level of education agency between the district and state level. These regional service agencies go by many names, including intermediate school districts, Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), intermediate units, educational service centers, Cooperative Education Service Agencies (CESA), county offices, and others. Many offer online learning services ranging from online courses and professional development to technology tools and course development. Instead of directly providing online learning services, some regional service agencies provide coordination and administrative services for schools and districts, assisting in online program planning and advising, contacting and vetting providers, and negotiating agreements for online courses, services, and technology.

Regional service agencies (RSA) are particularly active in online learning in states that do not have state virtual schools, and where local control dominates. In New York state, for example, BOCES work closely with school districts to help deliver online courses and services. The Wayne Finger Lakes BOCES’ AccelerateU provides online courses for New York students, as well as professional development for online teachers. AccelerateU employs its own part-time online teachers, uses its own LMS, and uses content from several vendors.

Regional service agencies in some states are able to authorize or operate their own schools. The two case studies in the side bar profile schools that are run by the San Juan Boces in Colorado, and the Santa Cruz County Office of Education in California. In each of these cases, these schools' governance, and the fact that they are run by a regional agency instead of a district or charter authorizer, is not apparent based on the school structure or instructional model.,