Central Florida has more than 11,000 high school 11th graders who have not passed a required online course, leaving their graduation status in jeopardy. Leslie Postal, reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, adds that the class of 2015 is the first that falls under this state-wide online learning requirement.
Some students in the class are very much supportive of this type of instruction, while others are having trouble fitting it into their out-of-school time schedule. Any senior who has not taken the course by the beginning of the upcoming school year will be required to take a new "blended learning" course in either economics or government.
This type of course will be taken in a regular classroom with a teacher present, but 50% of the course will be taught online (matching the amount of time online mandated by the state.) The idea is to ensure that graduating students had the readiness to enter the technological world outside the classroom walls.
According to the US Department of Commerce, 96% of Americans use new communication technologies in their jobs, and 62% use the Internet.
Rick Keith, a Lake Howell High School teacher, and creator of the hybrid classes, says:
"They will introduce students to online work but with the benefit of a teacher, who can provide some traditional lessons and offer help with the virtual ones. It's probably as good as you get."
The number of states requiring that students take courses online is growing. Kelsey Sheehy, reporting for U.S. News and World Report, shares that 620,000 students took an online course during the 2011-2012 school year. She adds that the following at least some school districts in the following states have requirements for online courses tied into graduation status:
Officials in these states say that requiring a student take an online course is a necessary step toward "college and career readiness". According to Amy Murin, a lead researcher at the Evergreen Education Group:
"It depends on how [the laws are] implemented. It depends on what kind of access students have to different providers in the state," she says. "I would argue that Florida is positioned the best of any state in the country, simply because they have so many providers functioning in the state."
Overall, six states have passed actual legislation requiring students to take an online course during their public education years.
When Florida first offered an online drivers' education course, many students signed on. Later, the Florida Legislature said that the class would not be accepted as an online course that fit the requirement for graduation.
This year, Gov. Rick Scott reversed that decision and students can once again use their drivers' education class to fulfill the online graduation requirement.