On August 1st, the National Collegiate Athletic Association put into effect new standards for online courses high school athletes may take. High school athletes seeking admission to a Division I school will be required to have taken 16 NCAA approved core classes in English, physical or natural science, social science, math, foreign language, or comparative religion and/or philosophy. Because student athletes have such full schedules, the flexibility of online courses has made it a popular choice; however this flexibility has often meant more relaxed standards. In the past, some students have been able to receive credit for courses such as an English I class completed in as little as a day, while their peers in traditional courses spend five months reading novels, writing papers and developing skills.
"We've worked with the review committee and other committees of education experts from iNACOL (the International Association for K-12 Online Learning) and the secondary school community," says Mark Hicks, associate director of high school review for NCAA. This summer, the Eligibility Center will complete course reviews to look for classes that are below the rigor of college preparatory or have condensed time frames or content that does not meet the new standards.
The revised definition will also require courses to be taught by qualified instructors and provide a forum for teacher-student interaction. Student work must be available to verify the rigor of the course load as well as to show interaction with teachers. Finally, the course must have a defined time period for completion.
Schools can contact the NCAA Eligibility Center to evaluate if their courses fit the new criteria.