More states look to online learning for students

Michigan was the first state to implement such a requirement in 2006, followed by Alabama in 2008.

“Michigan knew students would need 21st-century skills,” Powell said. “Students not only receive content in an online course, but they also get skills [such has] communicating and using those actual technology tools.”

The state aimed to pave the way for student success after high school, whether students entered the workforce or college.

Powell noted that some districts are running their own charter schools, and many special-education students are taking online classes as well.

Florida requires that an online learning option be made available to any student who wants it, and the state’s new Digital Learning Now law will require that high school students take an online course before earning a diploma. The law also expands the state’s pioneering Florida Virtual School.

Idaho won initial approval for its new plan to require two online learning credits for high school graduation. That plan went up for public comment during October, and final approval is expected sometime in 2012.

Idaho’s plan would take effect with students set to graduate from high school in 2016—next fall’s high school freshmen. The state Board of Education crafted the online course requirements as part of new education changes that were signed into law earlier this year with backing from public schools chief Tom Luna and Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter. Luna had wanted students to take up to eight online course credits, but that provision was ditched during the 2011 Idaho Legislature amid opposition from parents, teachers, and some lawmakers.

The legislation Otter signed into law instead directed the state Board of Education to draft standards governing the online course requirements.

The move was a critical step in “making sure every Idaho student graduates from high school with the skills they need to be successful in postsecondary education and the workforce,” Luna said.

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett proposed in September that all students be required to take one online course before they graduate from high school.

Laura Ascione

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