The number of states and districts requiring online courses for high school graduation has grown, according to an annual report released recently by the Evergreen Education Group. More and more, states and districts are requiring high school students to take online courses in an attempt to prepare them adequately for college and their careers, US News reports. The reality is that after graduation, most students will have to take an online course, whether at a four-year school, technical college or in their workplace. By requiring students to take online courses at the high school level, lawmakers hope to better prepare students for the “real” world.
In the past year, lawmakers in Idaho and Virginia signed laws requiring students to take at least one online course in order to earn a high school diploma. In May, the governor of Minnesota signed a law strongly encouraging, but not requiring high school students to take an online course before graduation. Michigan, Alabama, and Florida already have laws requiring students to take virtual courses to graduate from high school. Districts that have enacted similar provisions include Putnam County Schools in Tennessee, Marietta County Schools in Georgia, and the Kenosha School District in Wisconsin.
Why We Still Have a Long Way to Go
Enrollment in online classes at the K-12 level is on the rise, but the problem with requiring online education for high school graduation is that some states have a limited number of online learning programs to choose from. For example, in Indiana, lawmakers recently shot down an attempt to make online learning a requirement for high school students simply because there are not enough virtual education providers in the state. It would have a detrimental effect on the quality of high school education if districts just threw together online courses for the sake of meeting a legal requirement.
Rural students are also at a disadvantage when it comes to online courses, because they do not always have access to the infrastructure needed to succeed as online learners. Some rural towns in our nation do not even have broadband Internet.
In an increasingly digital world, being comfortable with online learning is certainly an advantage. Not all states and districts are prepared to offer online courses to high school students, but as technology advances and online education grows, more of them will likely jump on board.