Spring 2009 Evaluation Highlights:
North Carolina Virtual Public School
Kevin Oliver, Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology
NC State University
Background
• Friday Institute has received annual contracts
from DPI to assist with the evaluation of the
North Carolina Virtual Public School (NCVPS)
• recurring surveys of stakeholder groups (i.e.,
students, teachers, distance learning advisors,
and high school principals) (Sum 07, 09; Spring 08, 09)
• also, focused studies of NCVPS pilot initiatives:
– efforts to design and develop course modules for
elementary-middle school
– student success course to transition 8th graders
Spring 2009 Surveys
• questions about student learning, barriers to success,
teacher preparation and quality, advisor preparation
and quality, curriculum and teaching quality, and
leadership support
• similar questions to spring '08, allowing for
comparison of cohorts
• spring 2009 response rates:
Are Students Successful in NCVPS
Courses?
• more than 75% of students, teachers, and
advisors agreed or strongly agreed that
students were succeeding in NCVPS courses
• AP teachers were the most likely to agree
students were succeeding at 100% while only
55.6% of credit recovery teachers reported
the same
Are Students Learning More Online
Compared to Face-to-Face?
• when asked if students were
learning less or learning more
online, compared to similar
face-to-face courses, 43% of
teachers reported students
were learning more online
 significant increase from < 25%
in 2008
Are Students Gaining Tangential Skills
from Participation in NCVPS Courses?
• 97% of students agreed courses taught them
learning and innovation skills (e.g., creativity,
critical thinking, problem solving)
 significant increase from 88% in 2008
• 92% of students agreed courses taught them
technology literacy skills using such tools as
Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Web development
software, audio/video editors, photo editors
 significant increase from 87% in 2008
Are Students Gaining Tangential Skills
from Participation in NCVPS Courses?
• 79% of students agreed courses taught them
information literacy skills (e.g., online
research skills)
 significant increase from 68% in 2008
• nearly two-thirds of students and more than
three-fourths of teachers and advisors agreed
that NCVPS courses were supporting student
attainment of five of the seven 21st century
skill areas (exceptions: civic literacy, global
understanding)
Are Stakeholders Satisfied with
Curriculum Quality?
• 95.2% of teachers agreed course content
was sufficiently rigorous
 significant increase from 90.6% in 2008
• 92.9% of teachers agreed course
assignments were sufficiently rigorous
 significant increase from 88.4% in 2008
• 90.9% of teachers agreed that they provided
differentiated content and assignments
 significant increase from 79% in 2008
Are Stakeholders Satisfied with
Curriculum Quality?
• 88% of teachers agreed
they leveraged 21st
century tools such as
wikis, blogs, and
podcasts in their courses
 significant increase from
54% in 2008
Are Stakeholders Satisfied with the Availability
of Courses Offered by NCVPS?
• only 10% of students reported problems
getting into courses they wanted to take
• only 11% of students reported NCVPS was
not offering the courses they needed to take
Are Stakeholders Satisfied with Teaching
Quality?
• 76% of students and 81% of advisors agreed that
teachers were appropriately prepared to teach an
online course
• 100% of teachers agreed that they participated in
NCVPS professional development in the past
year
• 50.2% of students agreed that teachers posted
their own audio-visual presentations to explain
content; such elaborations were requested by
many students in written comments
Are Stakeholders Satisfied with Advising
Quality?
• 26.6% of students agreed that a lack of
distance learning advisor support was a
barrier to taking NCVPS courses
• 85.3% of teachers agreed it was a barrier for
at least some students
Are Stakeholders Satisfied with Advising
Quality?
• DLA role is only full-time for 27% of advisors
(typically media coordinators or counselors)
• advisors report four time-consuming tasks:
marketing courses, registering students,
monitoring student grades, and counseling
students to stay on task
• some comment it can be difficult to manage
regular job role and advising role
simultaneously (mean of 73 advisees per advisor)
Do Stakeholders Encounter Technical
Barriers When Using NCVPS Courses?
• 41% of students agreed that technical
problems affected their experiences taking
online courses
 significant decrease from 52% in 2008
• 52% of teachers agreed that technical
problems affected their experiences teaching
online courses
 significant decrease from 77% in 2008
Do Stakeholders Encounter Technical
Barriers When Using NCVPS Courses?
• credit recovery students were significantly
more likely to agree at 27.7% that a lack of
technical expertise was a barrier to taking
NCVPS courses compared to the three other
course levels between 11-17%
• some credit recovery students may require
more technical support than students at other
course levels
Do Stakeholders Encounter Infrastructure
Barriers When Taking NCVPS Courses?
• more than 80% of students indicated they
had appropriate access to computers and the
Internet to take NCVPS courses, so adequate
infrastructure appears to be available to most
students
• school-based computers are the primary
source of access for more than 47% of
students; only 34% primarily use homeowned computers
Do Stakeholders Encounter Infrastructure
Barriers When Taking NCVPS Courses?
• 26.3% of credit recovery students agreed that
a lack of access to computers at school was a
barrier--significantly more than students at
other course levels (general, honors, AP)
• credit recovery students were significantly
more likely than students at other levels to
report Internet connectivity as a barrier to
using NCVPS courses, both at school
(27.1%) and in the home (30.3%)
Are School and LEA Administrators Strong
Advocates for NCVPS?
• only about one-half of students and teachers
agreed that school-level and LEA
administration were enthusiastic and
supportive of online course opportunities
• more than 88% of principals surveyed
indicated they were enthusiastic about
offering online course opportunities to
students (n = 47)
Do Stakeholders Personally Advocate
for NCVPS?
• percent who agree/strongly agree they would
recommend more students take NCVPS courses
Subject Area Close-Up:
Foreign Language
• significantly fewer foreign language students
agreed they were successful in NCVPS
courses at 68.3%
• significantly fewer foreign language students
agreed they were learning more online
compared to face-to-face at 18.9%
• significantly fewer foreign language students
agreed that their courses supported the
seven 21st century skill areas
Subject Area Close-Up:
Foreign Language
• significantly fewer foreign language students
agreed that their teachers were adequately
prepared at 71.7%
• significantly fewer foreign language students
agreed with a number of teacher quality
variables (e.g., differentiation, using 21st
century tools, encouraging study strategies)
Subject Area Close-Up:
Math
• significantly fewer math students would
recommend more students take NCVPS
courses at 47.5%
• significantly fewer math students agreed that
their courses supported the seven 21st
century skill areas
• significantly fewer math students agreed with
a number of teacher quality variables (e.g.,
differentiation, using 21st century tools,
encouraging study strategies)
Subject Area Close-Ups:
Discussion
• follow-up summer survey inquiring into subject area
discrepancies
• English/Language Arts courses among the most
highly rated
• could be problematic teaching foreign languages and
math online, supporting synchronous dialogue and
teachers visually working out problems
• OR, students may just like these subjects less overall
• results might be the same if we compared foreign
language and math to other subjects in face-to-face
environments
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