State Board makes mandatory online class rule official

3 Nov

The Idaho State Board of Education approved a change in high school graduation requirements today, adding two mandatory online classes to the list. The rule will start with the class of 2016, next year’s incoming freshman.

It’s still a big departure from state Superintendent Tom Luna’s initial goal of making students take eight online classes in order to graduate. They also changed language that would forbid teachers from being in the room with students during the online courses. The rule now states that teachers may be present for one of the two credits.

The state board changed the initial ideas after hosting seven public hearings across the state and getting flack from teachers and parents alike. Critics of the plan complain that taking teachers out of the equation takes away crucial interaction with students.

The board argues that the classes will better prepare students for the future. “Everything is moving online and we’re doing our students a disservice if we’re not giving them an opportunity in this arena,” said board President Richard Westerberg in a press release Thursday. “Our own institutions tell us that high school students need to have online learning skills to be more successful once they arrive on campus.”

According to the press release, districts will be able to decide what classes their students take and when in their four years they can take them. The Idaho Legislature will be able to review the rule in January.

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