New Jersey education officials are working on an ambitious redesign of the state’s public high schools that is intended to better prepare students for college and the work force in the 21st century, reports the New York Times. The redesign had called for every student to study algebra II, lab sciences, and foreign languages; pass more state tests; and complete at least one online course to graduate. But education officials recently backed away from the online requirement because of concerns over the cost and whether such courses would meet state standards. In 2006, Michigan began requiring high school students to take an online course or have an online educational experience to graduate; Alabama adopted an online course requirement in 2008. Four other states, including New Jersey, have considered making online courses mandatory. In New Jersey, officials decided not to pursue the online course requirement–instead, the state will give districts the option to offer them–after studying the proposal more closely in recent weeks, said Beth Auerswald, a spokeswoman for the state education department. "The department had concerns about the cost of mandating an online course during these difficult fiscal times," she said. "And likewise, the department wants to ensure that online courses based in other states align with our curriculum standards."

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