BOISE -- Idaho is set to become the first state in the nation to require high school students to take at least two credits online to graduate.

Final approval from the state Board of Education came on Thursday.

This was one of the most controversial aspects of Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna's education reform plan.

That plan also introduced teacher merit pay, and will phase in laptops for every high school teacher and student. The plan was signed into law after this year's legislative session, but not before heavy criticism at public hearings.

The criticism continued this summer at more public hearings, where critics claim Luna is trying to replace teachers with computers.

Proponents say the online requirement helps to get Idaho in-step with the future of education. Board member Milford Terrell shared a story about his grandson, a 19-year-old college student, before voting 'aye.'

Everything he does, his assignments, anything that the teacher has to say, he has to go online to find that out, said Terrell. He's doing a speech as we speak in communications class as to why this is important.

The rule passed the board unanimously and will apply to students entering the 9th grade in 2012.

The Idaho Education Association, which has continually been against Luna's plan, sent a response to the board's vote. In part it reads, Idahoans have said repeatedly since last January that the decision to take online classes should be made by students and their parents, not by the state.

The rule still needs to go before Idaho lawmakers for review in the 2012 session, which starts in January.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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