BOISE -- Incoming Idaho freshman won't have to get online course credits to graduate, a decision made by the State Board of Education Monday.
High school students were required to get two credits on online learning. The board voted 7 to 1 in favor of removing the requirements.
“I think the board really signaled today that they heard what the voters said,” said communications officer for the State Board of Education Marilyn Whitney.
The board of eight met via teleconference. Member Milford Terrell was the only one at the meeting in person, the rest attended by phone.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna was en route to Las Vegas and by phone explained to members that online graduation requirements did not go away even though voters repealed the Students Come First laws on Nov. 6.
Luna said the language on the ballot made reference to online graduation requirements, and he believes that made voters think it was part of Proposition 3 -- the technology law.
"It's fair to assume that when people were voting no, they were voting not only against Proposition 3 in its entirety, but also against the online graduation requirements,” said Luna.
He said when the Students Come First Laws were rolled out to the Idaho Legislature two years ago, the responsibility was placed on the State Board of Education to decide on graduation requirements for online learning.
Now that the laws are no longer in place, the board was forced to make a decision to either keep the requirements or remove them.
During discussion members voiced the importance of online learning.
"I think it is going to be increasingly important that we have students at the end of the day who know how to take classes online effectively,” said board member Rod Lewis from Boise.
However, members also expressed respect for the public's vote to overturn Props 1, 2 and 3.
"The vote was not equivocal,” said board member Richard Westerberg from Preston. “It was a pretty strong vote from the populace and it was very specific in the way it was listed on the ballot so."
"What do students coming out of high school need to be able to do to be successful when they get to college? And they (the board) said today that one of the things they need to know how to do is learn online,” said Whitney.
Members still agree the need for online learning is crucial at the high school level and feel the conversation on what the right choice for online requirements is, will have to come.
“And so this is not going away,” said Whitney. “It is a way of learning and a way of instruction that will be in front of students and they need to be prepared for that."
Luna recommended removing the online course requirement for graduation.
The vote by the State Board of Education heads to the Legislature to affirm it or overturn it.
The board vote will also allow local school districts to grant students the option of waiving a third year of math, if they can prove academically, they don't need it.
Idaho's graduation requirements say high school students need three years of math.