Release of the revised K-12 National Standards for Quality Online Teaching and Programs

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by Christine Voelker

In an effort led by Quality Matters (QM) and the Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance (VLLA), the National Standards for Quality Online Programs and National Standards for Quality Online Teaching were released earlier this week. These standards, formerly maintained by iNACOL, reflect current best practices and provide online K-12 schools, districts and programs with a new foundation for building quality online learning experiences that contribute to student success. “The National Standards for Quality Online Programs and Online Teaching Standards were built on the research and work on online program and teaching quality standards published originally by the Southern Regional Education Board; they were researched, tested, and published nationally by iNACOL beginning in 2006 with an updated in 2011 and have stood as a benchmark for quality online learning for more than ten years,” said Bruce Friend, iNACOL’s Chief Operating Officer. “With the thoughtful and skillful stewardship of QM and VLLA, we are confident that the standards will continue to be a vital asset for the K-12 online community.”

Over 100 individuals with expertise in either K-12 online learning research or practice contributed to the revision, representing a variety of state and regional online learning programs as well as universities and researchers. Private companies, nonprofit organizations and foundations were also represented. John Watson, founder of Evergreen Education Group, praised the highly collaborative process, “I’m thrilled that VLLA, QM, and many other Digital Learning Collaborative members have been part of the group working on the National Standards revisions. The updated standards will be incredibly valuable to the teachers and school leaders implementing online and blended learning. The field has advanced considerably since the original standards were released, and the new version represents the latest thinking about how to implement online and blended learning to improve outcomes for all students.”

A comprehensive literature review, a user survey, and correlation documents were used to inform the revision process, resulting in standard sets that reflect the latest best practices. They also include new explanations and examples that expand the guidance provided in previous versions. The explanations and examples also create flexibility — allowing programs to apply the standards to blended, competency-based, or other learning strategies employed.

The revised standards are available to the public under a Creative Commons License and can be downloaded on the National Standards for Quality website.

The final set of standards — the National Standards for Quality Online Courses — are currently under review with a planned release in September 2019.

About the Author

Christine Voelker is the K-12 Program Director for Quality Matters. She has been involved with K-12 education for nearly 20 years, with an emphasis on library media, instructional technology, and professional development. Prior to coming to Quality Matters, Christine was an Educational Technology Teacher Specialist for Calvert County (MD) Public Schools. As such, she developed and coordinated the first student online learning program for the district. She holds an advanced certificate in Administration and Supervision, a Masters in Library and Information Sciences, and a B.A. in both History and Social Sciences Interdisciplinary: Early Childhood Education.