South Carolina students can take online classes offered by the state. But up until last month, there was a limit to the number. A new law has lifted that cap, making it easier for students to take classes online that their schools don’t offer.
South Carolina’s virtual school program has been around since 2006. It started as a way to improve the graduation rate, so many of the classes focused on credit recovery to give high school students a second shot at courses they failed. Lawmakers decided to limit kids to taking only three credit hours worth of online classes a year as the program was starting out.
A bill to lift that cap got unanimous votes in the house and Senate this year and the governor signed it into law last month.
“This allows us to broaden our horizons a little bit and expand a little bit into more advanced level courses, elective courses, things beyond just courses needed for graduation,” says Bradley Mitchell, the director of the South Carolina Virtual School Program.
That includes adding more Advanced Placement classes, honor level courses, and language classes that schools may not offer. Mitchell also plans to expand the virtual classes to eighth graders. Students and school districts don’t have to pay for them.
The exception is if a school wants to have a whole classroom of students take an online course. The school can pay the agency $3,500. That’s less than the cost of a teacher. That can help rural schools and some urban schools that may have a hard time finding certified teachers.
North Carolina also has a virtual program and there is no cap on the number of credit hours students can take online.