More Arizona students soon will be able to attend their classes online, reports the Arizona Republic: This year, the state has joined a national effort to increase the number of students participating in "virtual" lessons, whether it’s inside a classroom with a teacher, in a computer lab with an aide, or at home with a laptop. The changes arising from a new state law are being met with mixed reaction. On one hand, proponents call the move innovative, saying it will lead to greater choice and flexibility in learning. Critics, however, fear it will lead to students taking online classes that are of questionable value and have little oversight. It creates "a wide-open game with no accountability," said Doug Barnard, director of Mesa Public Schools’ decade-old online program, which requires students to take tests in person. For the past 10 years, a pilot program allowed 14 Arizona districts, including Mesa, and charter schools to offer online courses to about 15,000 K-12 students. But now, the program is open to everyone. Arizona’s 227 school districts and 500 charter schools can create their own online program or buy one from a commercial company. Schools can offer online classes to their own students or any student in the state. Schools will have to apply to a state board in order to participate…

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