Webster Groves to set up program for students to take online courses

Webster Groves School District, following new state legislation, is creating a program through which high school students can enroll and get credit for many online courses.

District officials announced and explained the program at the School Board meeting Monday night. The Ritenour School Board gave initial approval to its program four days earlier and other districts are following. The programs are to begin as early as January.

Students who apply to participate and are approved will have costs paid by the district, which is able to use state support funds up to the equivalent of a student's full-time enrollment. Most courses will cost less than $350 a semester, officials said.

The state set up the Missouri Course Action Program, run by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Virtual course providers can also be other for-profit or nonprofit firms as well as school districts, located anywhere. All courses will be approved by DESE before students may enroll. The local district will monitor students' participation and administer end-of-course examinations, as it does for any high school course.

Students must have attended traditional high school classes for at least one semester before enrolling in an online course.

"We would deny participation in such cases in which we are certain that a student would not succeed online," said Kristin Denbow, Webster Groves assistant superintendent for learning. Denied students may appeal all the way to the School Board if desired.

At Ritenour, some students and parents have already inquired, and a list of prospective participants is being kept, said spokesman Doug Bray.

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