Legislation to promote virtual education passes in R.I.

Posted 6/27/12

PROVIDENCE – The General Assembly approved legislation to establish a Statewide Virtual Education Act in Rhode Island.

The legislation, which was signed into law by Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee, declares that the promotion and use of virtual learning “must be accompanied by a clear responsibility to ensure that such opportunities are of high quality, consistent with state standards for teaching and instruction, fulfill high school graduation requirements, reflect the principles of equity and access, and include accountability provisions that assure citizens that any investment of public tax dollars is well spent,” according to a release.

The Statewide Virtual Education Act calls for the Commissioner and the Board of Regents for elementary and secondary education to develop regulations for the use of virtual courses and online learning for Rhode Island’s school districts.

The legislation calls for standard criteria to:

  • Ensure virtual content is aligned with state standards.

  • Select quality providers of virtual courses and online content.

  • Ensure teachers of virtual courses and other online learning activities are appropriately qualified.

  • Ensure that all learners in Rhode Island have access to high quality and relevant virtual courses.

  • Ensure school districts monitor students enrolled in virtual courses.

The sponsors of the bill, R.I. Sen. Louis P. DiPalma and R.I. Rep. Joseph M. McNamara, both democrats, said they introduced the legislation because the Ocean State was one of several states that had yet to establish a statewide policy on eduction.

They also called the legislation “timely” due to a recent report from a legislative study commission looking into the use of e-books in classrooms.

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