Students could sit at home and go to school, under a program approved by the Illinois State Board of Education.

The board is endorsing guidelines for the Illinois Virtual High School, an online program that allows students to take everything from foreign languages to advanced-placement chemistry any time of the day or night.

Officials said the idea is to provide the system to all 630,000 high school students—public, private, and home-schooled. The board has $370,000 set aside in start-up money, but must ask the Legislature for continued funding next spring.

Board member Marjorie Branch of Chicago voted “no” on the plan, saying it did not provide details about how many children would be left out because they couldn’t get access to the system.

“I’m concerned that every attendance area have the infrastructure to implement this program,” Branch said. “I want to see statistics.”

State school Superintendent Glenn McGee said staff members are seeking out districts that cannot support the system and will try to solve the problem.

The program is scheduled to begin in January with a limited number of course offerings. It would supplement regular schooling, and some courses would cost money, based on a sliding scale that considers an area’s wealth, officials said.

Web site now provides profiles of Arizona schools

Arizona parents with access to a computer now can find detailed information on 1,500 schools statewide, a step which the state’s top education official says will help parents make informed choices.

GreatSchools Inc., operator of the greatschools.net web site already serving California, said Aug. 29 it now also lists standard public schools, charter public schools, and private schools in Arizona.

School profiles include location, enrollment, teacher experience, dropout rates, attendance rates, demographics, and academic achievement. The site also includes tips on how to choose a good school, including questions to ask school officials.

Parents can look up schools by name, city, or school district or enter their own addresses to find nearby schools.

“Choice means nothing to parents if they have neither the means nor the tools to learn about what every school has to offer their children,” said Lisa Graham Keegan, state superintendent of public instruction.

GreatSchools is a nonprofit which began as an online guide to San Francisco schools and expanded statewide in California a year ago.

Its Arizona service is sponsored by the Pisces Foundation and a Seattle-based bank, Washington Mutual.