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Eye On Boise

Statewide hearings set on new online course requirement for high schoolers

The State Board of Education has set seven public hearings around the state on Idaho's proposed new online learning requirement for high school graduation, which, as proposed, would require two credits, one of which must be an “asynchronous” course, defined as one in which the teacher is not in the classroom with the student during instructional periods and both students and teachers participate in the course on their own schedules, rather than at a fixed time. The hearings start today in Idaho Falls from 4-8 p.m. at University Place; they continue Wednesday in Pocatello, Aug. 15 in Coeur d'Alene, Aug. 16 in Moscow, Aug. 17 in Fruitland, Aug. 18 in Nampa and Aug. 22 in Twin Falls. You can see the full schedule here.

“Our intent is to get all over the state as much as possible and get as much input as we can,” said board spokesman Mark Browning. After the public hearings, a board committee will vote on its final recommendation for the rule - which could change based on the public input - and that recommendation will go to the full board for a vote, likely in September or October.

The requirement to take online courses to graduate from high school was part of state schools Supt. Tom Luna's “Students Come First” school reform legislation that passed this year; originally, Luna pushed to require eight online courses to graduate, then four, and then the final version left the number to the state board, which is looking at two; Idaho would be the first state with such a requirement. It's part of the reform plan's move to shift state funds from teacher and administrator salaries to technology boosts, merit-pay bonuses and online learning. You can read the full proposed rule change here.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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