Why a vendor course approval process?

Not all virtual courses are created the same. With virtual providers proliferating and rigorous national and State-Board approved standards, the array of options can be overwhelming and, for some schools, difficult to navigate. The North Carolina Vendor Approval Process is intended to ensure access to a variety of high-quality, standards-based courses from vendors and providers all over the country, while lowering costs by eliminating the need for each school or LEA to separately evaluate virtual course products.

NC General Assembly S.L. 2011-145 states is section 7.22 (h)(2), the following:

The Director of NCVPS shall continue to ensure the following:

  1. Course quality standards are established and met.
  2. All e-learning opportunities other than virtual charter schools offered by State-funded entities to public school students are consolidated under the NCVPS program, eliminating course duplication.
  3. All courses offered through NCVPS are aligned to the North Carolina Standard Course of Study.

SBE Policy # GCS-M-001 (“Course for Credit”) Section 4 states the following:

An e-learning course qualifies for course credit if it meets the following requirements:

4.1 Any K-12 e-learning course taken for credit towards a diploma must first be approved for credit by the NC Virtual Public School (NCVPS).

4.2 E-learning courses offering instruction in courses included within the NC Standard Course of Study must meet the Standard Course of Study competency goals and objectives. E-learning courses offered for AP or IB credit must align with the governing bodies of the AP and IB programs.

4.3 E-learning courses offering instruction in courses not included in the Standard Course of Study curriculum must have rigor, depth and breadth comparable to courses included in the Standard Course of Study. When determining whether an e-learning course has such rigor, depth and breadth, the NCVPS shall consider whether the course meets the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and/or International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) criteria for awarding credit or is offered for credit toward a degree by a UNC system institution, an institution in the North Carolina Community College System, or a regionally accredited college.

The goal of theNC Vendor Approval Process is not to limit choices, but to consolidate as many high-quality courses as possible into a menu of options for schools and LEAs. NCVPS invites LEAs and schools to identify virtual learning courses necessary to meet the needs of their students. Through partnership with LEAs and schools, NCVPS can better serve the needs of all students and the state may achieve some benefit through cost consolidation and state-level agreements.

The Review Process

All K-12 e-learning courses must go through the approval process. This process only applies to teacher-led online courses which are taken for full credit either because the student is taking the course for the first time or has failed the course previously and needs to retake the entire course. By teacher-led, we mean that the Vendor provides the teacher to deliver the instruction for the course. Courses taken for credit recovery where the student may only retake portions of the course are not subject to this approval process.

In addition, courses that do not have any corresponding NC State Standards are not eligible for review. Courses are approved for five years.

Vendor Approval for AP Courses

If a Vendor can demonstrate that each Advanced Placement (AP) course syllabus has been approved by the College Board then the course will not need to go through a Phase 1 (Course content alignment to State standards and evidence that teacher is certified to teach in North Carolina) review and will proceed directly to a Phase 2 Review (full review). Note: If you have had a previous course approved already, then the respective course moves to a Phase 3 review.

To successfully review the AP course at Phase 1, NCVPS needs the following two pieces of information submitted with documentation for Course and Teacher Quality.

  1. For Course Quality: Documentation that supports the claim that the syllabus has been approved by the College Board. Make reference to this documentation in the Course Quality Document for A2 and A3. Then upload the documentation verifying that the course is certified and approved by the College Board to the respective AP course folder.
  1. For Teacher Quality: Submit documentation that your teacher for the respective AP course has participated in an in-depth Professional Development offered for the specific AP course. The College Board holds these events all over the country in either a week long or weekend long experience. You can add that to the Teacher Quality documentation you submit for A3 and A4 for Teacher Quality and then upload that documentation in the respective AP course folder.

Additional Resources

  1. To determine whether a course is eligible for review, please follow this Decision Tree.
  2. Frequently Asked Questions about the NC Vendor Course Approval Process.
  3. View this NC Vendor Course Approval Process infographic to see the process “At a Glance.”

Submitting a Course for Review:

To submit a course for review, follow these steps:

  1. Vendors need to complete this Request Form for each course to be approved
  2. Once the application has been received, Don Lourcey, an NCVPS staff member, will contact the vendor to provide information on where all evaluation artifacts should be submitted.
  3. Vendors will submit an artifact for each item on the following checklists to the location supplied based on letter “b” above.
    1. Online Course Quality Standards
    2. Online Teacher Quality Standards
  4. Upon receipt of all artifacts, the items will be reviewed and results reported to the vendor within 120 days.

The Submission and Review Cycle:

The North Carolina Virtual Public School accepts Vendor courses for review between July 1st-April 15th of each fiscal year. Courses submitted after April 15th will be held for review until the start of the following fiscal year on July 1st.

If you have any questions, please contact Don Lourcey by e-mail at don.lourcey@ncpublicschools.gov.