Virginia is to join several other states in requiring students to take an online class in order to meet graduation requirement. Governor Bob McDonnell, committed to expanding virtual education, has said that the requirement will help prepare students better for the 21st Century job market.
The measure is becoming increasing popular, with Alabama, Florida and Michigan all adopting rules over the last few years that mandate some online learning. Students in Idaho entering the ninth grade this fall will be required to take two online courses if they wish to graduates. Advocates of online education consider it a natural step to take in preparing students for the increasingly technological world that awaits them after school; however teaching unions are less than enthusiastic, with the Idaho Education Association complaining that these measures disregard parental choice.
Governor McDonnell has made education reform a priority during his term and has declared a commitment to raising teacher standards and quality while expanding educational options. In addition to preparing graduating students for the workplace, mandatory online credits will also prepare teachers and families for the shift taking place in education and make them more amenable to additional online education options in the future.
The governor signing this new law in Virginia comes at a time when six more virtual school providers have been approved by the Virginia Department of Education.
"By contracting with virtual schools or online providers, Virginia's school divisions can broaden the array of courses they offer, reach out to more nontraditional students and provide more educational options for families," Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright said in a statement.
The new providers are Accelerate Education, American Virtual Academy, Cambium Education Inc., Glynlyon-Odysseyware, Proximity Learning Inc. and PLATO Learning Inc.
The new requirement for an online class will apply to students who start the ninth grade in the 2013-14 academic year.