Race to the Top Progress Update

(D)(3) Virtual and Blended Courses, Part B Narrative, North Carolina, July 2013
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Race to the Top Progress Update
Sub-criterion D3 Virtual and Blended Courses
Part B: In preparation for monthly calls, States must submit written responses to the following
questions for two application sub-criteria (e.g. (A)(2) and (D)(4)). 1 All responses in this section
should be tailored to the goals and projects associated with this sub-criterion.
Application sub-criterion:2
D3 Ensuring equitable distribution of effective teachers and principals (Virtual Courses)
STATE’s goals for this sub-criterion:
Increase the number of highly-qualified teachers in low-income rural areas and lowperforming urban schools.
Relevant projects:
Develop, design, and modify three new courses (Math II, III, and Biotech and
Agriscience I) that provide access and targeted instruction to at-risk student populations
for the purposes of credit attainment towards graduation.
Launch three pilot STEM courses.
Identify low achieving schools for target deployment of services.
Collaboratively determine the new virtual delivery model's teaching and learning
approach, and the support, and coaching needs for all identified schools and staff.
Identify, hire, prepare, and strategically place face-to-face and virtual teachers and
contractors to serve at risk populations through the new virtual course delivery model.
Identify and procure and deploy blended resources and devices, and provide appropriate
training and support.
Collaboratively determine support and coaching needs for all staff and contractors
regarding professional development, device deployment, and related needs.
1. Is the State on-track to implement the activities and meet the goals and performance
measures that are included in its approved scope of work for this sub-criterion? If
so, explain why. If not, explain why not.
NCVPS continues to develop its blended courses, and while the initiative is mostly on track there
have been delays this summer that affect the implementation of the three new courses (Math II,
Math III, and Biotechnology and Agriscience Research I) for the 2013-14 school year.
Revisions to the existing courses, using feedback from teachers, are on-track and will be
completed during the summer of 2013. Revisions for two of the courses will also ensure
On each monthly call, program officers and states should work together to select two sub-criteria for the following month.
All highlighted fields will be pre-populated by the Department Program Officer prior to State completion.
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alignment with new sets of standards: the Math I course ensure that it aligns to the revised
Standard Course of Study, and the revisions for the Earth and Environmental Science course will
align the material to the dare in line with the Next Generation Science Standards. These changes
will be updated for use in courses for the fall of 2013.
STEM Professional Development also continues to be offered for teachers, and has been moved
into the Learning Management System to provide ease of access to face-to-face and virtual
teachers. A calendar of opportunities for Professional Development is also present in the
Learning Management System. In order to provide access to professional development, they are
being converted to iBooks. This will provide teachers with mobile access to content without
WIFI. The progress of teachers will be reported monthly to district liaisons, principals, and
central office officials.
NCVPS has experienced delays in hiring developers for the three courses scheduled for
implementation at the start of the 2013-14 school year. As a result, Math II will be rolled out in a
two-phase format as opposed to the whole course being available at the start of the semester. Part
I at the start of the course in August will encompass 45-days of activities to ensure smooth
transition into learning management system and allow teachers to begin working together; Part II
of the course content will be available by October 4.
NCVPS believes it will be able to secure developers for the additional courses (Math III and
Biotechnology and Agriscience I) this fall and complete development in time to release the
courses in the spring 2014 based on response from LEAs on student readiness and progress. This
will bring the total number of courses for 2013-14 will be six full courses. The final two courses
(a fourth math course and a second Biotechnology and Agriscience course) will start development
in the fall of 2013 for scheduled launch in the fall of 2014.
NCVPS is also working with STEM officials at NCDPI to determine the feasibility of utilizing
content developed for STEM courses through the North Carolina School of Science and Math
(NCSSM) in existing NCVPS courses. NCVPS would modify this for the blended format and
make them available through their platform.
NCVPS also continued to work to make content available to teachers and students in iBook
format that allows off-line access. This change was made based on feedback from teachers and
students, and has been integrated into the content development process.
2. Does the State have evidence indicating the quality of implementation for this subcriterion? What is/has the State doing/done as a result of this information?
The main set of indicators for determining the quality of implementation comes from
informal feedback collected by NCVPS staff and the pairs of teachers working together
through the pilot. NCVPS Virtual STEM uses a mixture of virtual meetings and site
visits to get feedback on implementation activities as they progress. For example, virtual
and face-to-face teachers utilize Google Hangout sessions to participate in Professional
Learning Network Meetings to share ideas and discuss challenges. Project leads meet
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weekly with all team members in a whole group meeting on Thursday nights at 8:00 pm
and weekly with each team member to discuss feedback, tasks, and priorities.
NCVPS staff members also conduct site visits to observe the implementation and gather
feedback on integration and sustainability, and each virtual teacher has four spot checks a
semester. The face-to-face teachers and virtual teacher communicate daily on issues,
concerns, and successes through a daily log of information in order to monitor
implementation of the course and make adjustments based on the needs of the students in
the class. This is accessible to the STEM instructional leader and STEM project lead.
Based on formative feedback provided through these methods, NCVPS has seen the
following positive trends:
Collaboration between virtual and face-to-face teachers is working well as they
are using their daily logs to communicate about the course and face-to-face
teachers took ownership of their role in the courses during the fall semester.
There is better integration of mobile technology and applications within the
courses. All teachers are using mobile applications better to allow students to
create via the iPad. Face to face teachers are involving the iPad in their courses
more and the virtual teachers are using multiple products, so students can use
multiple applications to solve problems. This allows the student to develop their
own answer based on information they have collected and understand.
LEAs are examining the possibility of integrating courses into their general
catalogue after the pilot phase has ended. Greene County, for example, is
developing a STEM program which will include NCVPS virtual STEM courses.
Face-to-face teachers are providing mentorship on Project Based Learning and
integrating technology at local schools. This is occurring in staff meetings and in
teacher-to-teacher dialogue.
NCVPS is also conducting a “marks analysis” of courses. Teachers and NCVPS staff
review grades from all courses and EOC data from sections of Math I to determine if
strategies employed in the pilot implementations are helping students improve over the
duration of the course.
In addition to the informal feedback obtained through internal NCVPS procedures, a
team from the Friday Institute at NC State has conducted an evaluation of the early
implementation of the pilot, which will be released in the spring of 2013. Based on the
preliminary findings, NCVPS staff made several changes to the courses such as providing
iPad training for students and teachers within the course, two day training sessions in the
Spring and Summer before course implementation for face-to-face teachers, development
of multimedia help videos for suggestions of how to use applications on the iPad as it
relates to course assignments, improved course development process, and focusing on
teacher roles and communication. The informal and formal feedback has been used in the
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summer of 2013 to make revisions to the existing courses and for development of new
courses. Some examples include:
Reducing the number of grand challenges in first year courses from four to three
to make room for additional instruction on concepts that students needed to know
in order to meet standards (e.g., understanding the concept of ozone before
discussing climate)
Making aesthetic improvements to the Moodle pages in order to improve student’
ability to navigate the websites
Purchasing additional developer tools to allow creation of animation and to
caption videos for students
Feedback has also been used to improve professional development offerings for teachers.
This year NCVPS is working on more content-specific PD for teachers, creating a yearlong calendar to help teachers plan for sessions, and communicating monthly with central
office and district personnel about these options to help make teachers aware of them.
3. What obstacles and/or risks could impact the State’s ability to meet its goals and
performance measures related to this sub-criterion?
Delays in hiring content developers for the new courses have necessitated pushing back
full implementation of the two new courses scheduled to launch in the fall of 2014. The
Math II course will have a two-phase rollout during the semester (see response to
question one above), while Math III and Biotechnology and Agriscience I will not be
available until the spring semester of 2014. These delays have also necessitated a twophase rollout of the Math II course in the fall of 213.
The blended model requires a face-to-face teacher paired with a virtual teacher. The
current LEAs are not able to divert additional personnel to the blended model in their
schools, due either to the small size of the LEA and/or to budget cuts faced by the LEAs.
Our current strategy to mitigate these challenges is to recruit several new schools to
implement the blended model in a non-mobile blended environment. NCVPS is working
to identify additional schools who may be interested in these courses and has continued to
publicize them in the NCVPS catalog and through direct communication with LEAs.
A third challenge involves the development of a mobile application that can allow access
to the STEM courses. This development is in the draft phase and being reviewed by the
State ITS Project Manager and Virtual STEM Technology Liaison. This process requires
meeting State ITS reporting standards before being posted as a request for proposal.
There are multiple levels of the review, meaning that the process is more time consuming
than originally anticipated. The review process has continued to move forward since the
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site visit in April, though the State ITS Project Manager has not approved the release of
the RFP yet.
Evaluation: Based on the responses to the previous question, evaluate the State’s
performance and progress to date for this sub-criterion (choose one)
Red (1)
Orange (2)
Yellow (3)
Green (4)3
Red – substantially off-track and/or has significant quality concerns; urgent and decisive action is required; Orange –off-track
and/or there are quality concerns; many aspects require significant attention; Yellow –generally on-track and of high or good
quality; only a few aspects require additional attention; Green – on-track with high quality.