Idahos State Board of Education has set a special meeting in Boise for Monday, at which it could decide to repeal a rule requiring all Idaho students to take at least two online courses to graduate from high school.
The Students Come First law that directed the board to make the rule was repealed by voters last week.
During the campaign, state schools Superintendent Tom Luna said repeatedly that the online graduation requirement wouldnt go away even if voters rejected Proposition 3, because it was in a State Board rule.
There isnt a legal requirement (to repeal), because the board has the authority to set administrative rules and to set graduation requirements, said board spokeswoman Marilyn Whitney. That having been said, the board is well aware of the outcome of the election, and this board has been very in tune with public input.
Board President Ken Edmunds of Twin Falls agreed that what voters want matters a great deal, adding, if people arent satisfied with what were doing, theyre not going to support further change.
The law has been repealed, and therefore, theoretically, that means that that is not something that should be on the books, Edmunds said. Our board needs to talk about that, though. Because this is really part of an overall picture, and we need to talk about where were going.
I still believe that online education is part of the future, (but) I am not certain that the two credits is necessarily the answer. It creates a one-size-fits-all approach, Edmunds said, using a phrase that was popular among the propositions opponents.
The boards agenda includes a pending rule to modify the graduation requirement, removing a controversial requirement that at least one of the courses be asynchronous, meaning the course is delivered entirely online with teachers and students participating on their own schedules. That requirement drew opposition from Idaho school districts; state lawmakers voted in the last session to do away with it.
The board has two options, Whitney said:
Approve the pending change to the rule.
Reconsider the rule and do away with the online graduation requirement.
The boards agenda packet for Mondays meeting includes this note: The part of the question posed to the voters in Proposition 3 clearly included the repeal of online learning as a graduation requirement. While the board has the authority to promulgate rules setting minimum high school graduation requirements, the failure of proposition three removed the statutory requirement that they include online learning for the class of 2016.
In addition, the boards agenda includes a slate of other rule changes, including another one directly related to the failure of Propositions 1, 2 and 3: Repealing the fractional ADA formula in which a portion of Idaho school districts state funding is automatically diverted to an online course provider, with or without the districts permission, if students choose to take some of their courses online.
Whitney said that rule is legally required to be repealed, now that the state law authorizing the payment scheme has been repealed by voters. That, too, happened in Proposition 3, which included a plan to supply laptop computers to every high school student.
Fractional ADA refers to Average Daily Attendance, which is the basis on which school districts receive their state funding. The Idaho School Administrators Association strongly opposed the scheme in the 2011 Legislature.
That actually was the subject of discussion many times with superintendents and administrators and even with teachers, trying to understand what impact that had on them, Edmunds said. It has a much deeper impact than I originally thought.
One other rule change on the boards agenda also relates to Students Come First, regarding teacher and principal evaluations.
Mondays board meeting starts at 10 a.m. on the third floor of the Len B. Jordan Building, 650 W. State St.