Waukesha high school students – starting with next year's freshmen – will have to take one course online through eAcheive Academy in order to graduate.
The change was approved Wednesday night by the Waukesha School Board on an 8-1 vote. School Board Member Barb Brzenk voted against the policy change because she was worried about the transition into an online environment.
"We could think of a way to ease the kids into this instead of all kids starting 2013," Brzenk said.
Brzenk was also worried about the impacts to all students and the district's emphasis on individualized learning.
"I am not so sure that all will represent success for 'all' of our students," she said. "I am uncomfortable with that."
Superintendent Todd Gray disagreed, saying the school district needs to prepare students – college bound or workforce bound – for the use of technology.
"We can not survive in this environment anymore without having at least some technology skills," Gray said.
Students who are not going to college may need the online course more because they will need to use technology in their jobs, so to suggest that students heading to the workforce won't need the course is a "cop out," Gray said.
"If you look at our vision and our mission, it is to create 21st-century learners," Gray said. "I have great faith that our entire teaching staff, especially at the high schools, will make sure students do succeed in this."
Additionally, the course will be the student's choice, and it can be completed during study hall or even at home.
"I think there are a lot of opportunities to make sure it is done right," Gray said.
Board Member Bill Baumgart said the majority of corporate training has transitioned to digital learning as companies look for efficient ways to educate their employees. More than 50 percent of job applications are completed online, he added
“People have to be able to take courses that way,” Baumgart said.
An additional change made by the board allows students who compete in a full season of school-sanctioned sports to receive a .5 credit toward physical education requirements.