Online learning requirements: Part 1 – True requirements

Keeping Pace 2013 is available for download at We're posting highlights of the report here in our blog. We are frequently asked which states require students to take an online course in order to graduate. As of September 2013, four states require students to complete an online course to graduate (Alabama, Florida, Michigan, and Virginia) and two more (North Carolina and Arkansas) are in the process of implementing such a requirement; details about these states are included below. On Monday we’ll look at states that recommend and encourage online learning.

Alabama’s requirement has been required for all students beginning with 9th graders in 2009-10 (last year’s graduating class, so all students moving forward). It states that, “students shall be required to complete one online/technology enhanced course or experience in either a core course (mathematics, science, social studies, or English) or an elective with waivers being possible for students with a justifiable reason(s).”

Florida’s requirement is in effect for all 9th graders beginning in SY 2011-12 who are seeking a standard diploma. It states that, “At least one course … must be completed through online learning … an online course taken during grades 6-8 fulfills this requirement. This requirement shall be met through an online course offered by the Florida Virtual School, an online course offered by the high school, or an online dual enrollment course … A student enrolled in a full-time or part-time virtual instruction program under s.1002.45 meets this requirement.”

Michigan has one of the oldest requirements, beginning with students entering 8th grade in 2006. The requirement states, “To graduate from high school, students must meet the online course or learning experience requirements as follows: “(i.) Has successfully completed at least 1 online course or learning experience that is presented online, as defined by the department; (ii) The pupil’s school district or public school academy has integrated an online experience through the high school curriculum …”

Virginia’s is the newest requirement, going into effect for 9th graders this school year. SB489 / HB1061 (2012) states that beginning with the 9th grade class in 2013-14, the Virginia State Board of Education will modify graduation requirements to earn a standard or advanced studies diploma to include the “successful completion of one virtual course. The virtual course may be a noncredit-bearing course.”

In addition, some school districts are considering adding—or have implemented—online learning requirements. These include Cedarburg School District (WI), Kenosha School District (WI), Marietta City Schools (GA), Memphis City Schools, Putnam County Schools (TN), and Sugar Salem High School (ID). Kiel High School (WI) students take a required health class online, but have face-to-face components on topics such as first aid and CPR.


Idaho repealed its online learning requirement along with many other provisions affecting online learning in SB1184.