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COMMITTEE AMENDMENT ADOPTED
March 6, 2007
Introduced by Reps. Rice, Walker, G.R. Smith, Shoopman, Cobb-Hunter, Mahaffey, Cotty, Owens, D.C. Smith, Bedingfield, Bales and Viers
S. Printed 3/6/07--S.
Read the first time February 27, 2007.
TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING CHAPTER 16 TO TITLE 59 SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION SHALL ESTABLISH THE SOUTH CAROLINA VIRTUAL SCHOOL PROGRAM, PROVIDE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE VIRTUAL SCHOOL PROGRAM, PROVIDE FOR COURSES OFFERED FOR CERTAIN CREDIT, PROVIDE FOR THE VIRTUAL SCHOOL PROGRAM'S TEACHERS, PROVIDE THAT THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION SHALL PROMULGATE REGULATIONS, PROVIDE FOR A STUDY TO DETERMINE THE FEASIBILITY OF PROVIDING THE VIRTUAL SCHOOL PROGRAM TO STUDENTS ENROLLED IN ADULT EDUCATION PROGRAMS, PROVIDE FOR AN ANNUAL REPORT TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, AND PROVIDE FOR AN ON-LINE PROGRAM IN A CHARTER SCHOOL; AND BY ADDING SECTION 59-40-65 SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT CERTAIN INFORMATION MUST BE INCLUDED IN THE CHARTER SCHOOL APPLICATION IF A CHARTER SCHOOL OFFERS A PROGRAM OF ON-LINE INSTRUCTION AND PROVIDE THAT CHARTER SCHOOL STUDENTS MAY ENROLL IN THE VIRTUAL SCHOOL PROGRAM PURSUANT TO PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS.
Amend Title To Conform
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. Title 59 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
Section 59-16-10. The General Assembly finds that:
(1) through the use of technology South Carolina can create educational opportunities for the students of this State that may not exist without such technology; and
(2) using technology to deliver instruction can provide effective alternatives for credit recovery, meeting graduation requirements, resolving scheduling conflicts, delivering curriculum content when there is a shortage of certified personnel, providing a more flexible and individualized instructional pace, and offering low-incidence courses.
It is the purpose of the General Assembly in this chapter to establish the South Carolina Virtual School Program to ensure consistent high quality education for the students of South Carolina utilizing technology-delivered courses.
Section 59-16-15. (A) The State Board of Education is authorized to establish the South Carolina Virtual School Program to provide South Carolina students access to distance, online, or virtual learning courses offered for an initial unit of credit. The South Carolina Virtual School Program shall offer access to credit recovery programs for students who have been identified by a school district as not having received credit for a course previously taken or for students who have been identified by a school district as not likely to receive credit for a course in which the student is currently enrolled. Students may enroll in a course for credit recovery based on policies established by the State Board of Education. The South Carolina Virtual School Program shall not award a South Carolina High School diploma.
(B) Any public, private, or home school student residing in South Carolina who is twenty-one years of age or younger shall be eligible to enroll in the South Carolina Virtual School Program. However, public school students shall be given enrollment priority. A private school or home school student enrolled in the South Carolina Virtual School Program shall not be entitled to any rights, privileges, courses, activities, or services available to a public school student other than receiving an appropriate unit of credit for a completed course. No state funds are to be provided in support of any private or home school student enrolled in the Virtual Schools Program.
(C) Students may be awarded a maximum of three online initial credits in a school year, and no more than twelve online initial credits throughout high school. However, the State Board of Education shall establish an appeals process whereby students may be granted a waiver to exceed the established limit.
(D) Local school districts shall accurately transcribe a student's final numeric grade to the student's permanent record and transcript. Home school students and private school students shall receive a certified grade report indicating date, course, and final numeric grade from the South Carolina Virtual School Program or an entity approved by the State Board of Education.
(E) Students enrolled in an online course for a unit of credit shall be administered appropriate state assessments in a proctored environment.
(F) It is not the responsibility of the school, district, or State to provide home computer equipment and Internet access for enrollment in courses provided by the South Carolina Virtual School Program. However, nothing in this section shall prohibit a school or district from providing home computer equipment or Internet access to students enrolled in the South Carolina Virtual School Program.
Section 59-16-20. (A) The South Carolina Virtual School Program shall be housed in and managed by the State Department of Education. The department may contract for distance learning courses, develop courses, or approve courses submitted by entities.
(B) Each course offered for a unit of credit shall be reviewed for correlation with the state adopted academic standards prior to being offered.
(C) All distance, online, or virtual learning courses offered for a unit of credit must be aligned with the state adopted academic standards, include appropriate course materials, and be approved by the State Department of Education.
(D) Instructors must hold a valid teaching certificate in each content area being taught or receive approval from the State Department of Education to teach the course.
(E) All Virtual School teachers must receive appropriate pre-service and in-service training pertaining to the organization, classroom management, technical aspects, monitoring of student assessment, and other pertinent training from the State Department of Education.
Section 59-16-30. As used in this chapter:
(1) 'Distance learning' means the acquisition of knowledge and skills through mediated information and instruction, encompassing all technologies and other forms of learning at a distance. Distance learning includes online and virtual courses.
(2) 'Online learning' means learning delivered by web-based or Internet-based technologies.
(3) 'Proctored' means directly monitored by an adult authorized by the South Carolina Virtual School.
(4) 'Virtual classroom' means the online learning space where students and instructors interact.
(5) 'School year' means the one hundred eighty days of student instruction required pursuant to Section 59-1-420 and student instruction received as part of a summer school program.
Section 59-16-40. The State Board of Education shall develop guidelines and promulgate regulations to include, but may not be limited to, the following:
(1) procedures and criteria to be used for the selection of online courses to be offered for a unit of credit;
(2) qualifications and registration requirements of students who may enroll in online courses to include provisions outlining the enrollment of students that have been expelled from school;
(3) procedures for private and home school students to enroll in courses offered;
(4) teacher qualifications and the student-to-teacher ratio for online courses;
(5) appropriateness and provisions for charging tuition and fees;
(6) procedures for establishing uniform evaluation of student progress and awarding of the final grade;
(7) process for maintaining student records and reporting and recording grades on the student's transcript;
(8) procedures and requirements for employment, supervision, and evaluation of teachers;
(9) procedures and requirements for supervision, monitoring, assessment, and evaluation of enrolled students; and
(10) student expectations.
Section 59-16-50. Through the use of an online pilot program, the State Department of Education shall examine the feasibility of providing services of the South Carolina Virtual School Program to students enrolled in adult education programs and shall make recommendations to the General Assembly no later than January 1, 2008.
Section 59-16-60. Annually the State Board of Education shall provide the General Assembly a report that shall include, but not be limited to, the following information:
(1) list of courses offered through the virtual school;
(2) number of local school districts and number of the district students participating in the virtual school;
(3) private schools and number of the private school students participating in the virtual school;
(4) number of home school students participating in the virtual school;
(5) success rates for students by courses enrolled in the virtual school;
(6) number of students who dropped a course and reasons for dropping;
(7) expenditures made for the virtual school; and
(8) number of students unable to enroll because of space limitations.
Section 59-16-70. At the end of each semester, the State Department of Education shall provide student records, including course grades and performance on state assessments, to the Education Oversight Committee. The Education Oversight Committee shall monitor the impact of credits earned in the virtual school on the school and district ratings with particular attention to performance on end-of-course examinations and graduation rates"
SECTION 2. Chapter 40, Title 59 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
"Section 59-40-65. (A) If the governing body of a charter school offers as part of its curriculum a program of online or computer instruction this information shall be included in the application and the governing body shall be required to:
(1) provide each student enrolled in the program with a course or courses of online or computer instruction approved by the State Department of Education that must meet or exceed the South Carolina content and grade specific standards. Students enrolled in the program of online or computer instruction must receive all instructional materials required for the student's program;
(2) ensure that the persons who operate the program on a day-to-day basis comply with and carry out all applicable requirements, statutes, regulations, rules, and policies of the charter school;
(3) ensure that each course or courses offered through the program shall be taught by a teacher meeting the requirements of Section 59-40-50;
(4) ensure that a parent or legal guardian of each student verifies the number of hours of educational activities completed by the student each school year;
(5) adopt a plan by which it will provide:
(a) frequent, ongoing monitoring to ensure and verify that each student is participating in the program, including regular weekly assessments in core subjects graded or evaluated by a teacher, and at least bi-weekly parent-teacher conferences in person or by telephone;
(b) regular instructional opportunities in real time that are directly related to the school's curricular objectives, including, but not limited to, meetings with teachers and educational field trips and outings;
(c) verification of ongoing student attendance in the program;
(d) verification of ongoing student progress and performance in each course as documented by ongoing assessments and examples of student coursework;
(6) administer to all students in a proctored setting all applicable assessments as required by the South Carolina Education Accountability Act.
(B) Nothing in this section shall prohibit a charter school that provides a program of online or computer instruction from reimbursing families of enrolled students for costs associated with their Internet connection for use in the program.
(C) Charter school students may enroll in the South Carolina Virtual School Program pursuant to program requirements.
(D) Private or home school students choosing to take courses from a virtual charter school may not be provided instructional materials, or any other materials associated with receiving instruction through a program of online or computer instruction at the state's expense.
(E) Only students enrolled in the charter school as a full-time student shall be reported in the charter school's average daily membership to the State Department of Education for the purposes of receiving state or federal funds. Private and home school students may not be included in the student weighted pupil units or average daily membership reported to the State Department of Education for the purposes of receiving state or federal funds."
SECTION 3. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
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