Changes to the Criteria

Prior to each approval cycle, OSPI updates the approval criteria based on input from applicants, reviewers, and the Online Learning Advisory Committee. The changes are listed below and include the reasoning behind the changes.

You can always see the most recent version of the criteria on the criteria page.

Proposed criteria changes for Spring 2016

No changes have been made to the approval criteria in preparation for the 2016 review cycle. Changes made in preparation for the spring 2015 review can be found here (pdf).

Criteria changes for Spring 2014

Changes made in preparation for the spring 2014 review can be found here (pdf).

Criteria changes for Spring 2013

Changes made in preparation for the spring 2013 review can be found here (pdf).

Criteria changes through Spring 2012

A compilation of the changes made up through the spring 2012 review are listed below. Sections that have been added are highlighted and sections that have been removed are crossed-out.

A2.* Content of sufficient rigor, depth, and breadth to teach the standards learning goals being addressed.

Rigor is defined as a condition of the learning environment which stretches the individual learner to move beyond his/her comfort zone and grow as an independent learner. Depth refers to the degree to which the course content adheres to the standards learning goals being taught. Breadth refers to the completeness of the course.

Reason: This criterion is not asking for an examination of the applicable standards; the approval assurance regarding alignment with the state learning standards addresses that. This item aims to ensure that content is aligned with the learning goals outlined for the course.

Change date: January, 2012

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A5. * Readability levels, written language assignments, and mathematical requirements appropriate for the course content.

The Evidence shows that in the course design process, the course content is written at appropriate readability levels for the grade level of the student audience, and the grade level is prominently explained within the course description. Readability readability formulas are used to identify the readability level. Mathematical For math courses, the evidence shows that mathematical language is also written at the appropriate level for the intended audience.

Reason: This change removes the requirement for evidence to be found in the course demos, and clarifies the type of evidence that would satisfy this item.

Change date: December, 2010

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A7.* Assessment and assignment rubrics, answers and/or explanations provided to the student.

Assessment rubrics are disclosed in preparation materials for assessments; correct answers and/or explanations are available at the end of assessments. Samples of completed assignments are included as part of instruction.

Reason: This change makes the explanatory statement consistent with the criteria text.

Change date: March, 2011

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Note: This change has been superseded. This item has been re-numbered to C5.

C5A7.* Grading rubrics and/or models of partially- to fully-completed assignments available to the students.

Rubrics or models provided to the student are included as part of instruction and include rationale, desired characteristics and clear expectations for graded assignments.

Reason: A7 was moved from C5 into the A section. This criterion is more about instructional preparation for assignments, and it fits better in the course Content and Design category (A). A7 is also now a demo-reliant item.

Change date: January, 2012

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A8.* Opportunities to address the needs of diverse learners with multiple learning styles.

Instructor is able to provide alternative assignments and/or assessments to make the best use of each student's talents and skills, as appropriate; the course contains opportunities for various modes of learning.

Reason: This change provides brings the text of the explanatory statement in-line with the intent of the criteria.

Change date: March, 2011

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Note: This change has been superseded. See below for the more recent change to A8.

A8.* Opportunities to The course content addresses the diverse needs of diverse learners with multiple learning styles and incorporates varied ways to learn and master the curriculum.

Instructor is able to provide alternative assignments and/or assessments to make the best use of each student's talents and skills, as appropriate; the course contains opportunities for various modes of learning.

Instructor or class structure promotes a student-centered learning environment; a variety of instructional and assessment methods are used throughout the course.

Reason: This change focuses the criterion on the principles of meeting multiple needs of learners, and makes the list of requirements more inclusive of actual practice.

Change date: January, 2012

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A12. Opportunities for appropriate instructor-student and student-student interaction to foster mastery and application of the material and a plan for monitoring that interaction.

Learning activities and other learning opportunities are developed to foster instructor-student and student-student interaction. The technology and course content encourage exchanges amongst the instructor and students through various modes which may include email, discussions, synchronous chats, simulations, lab activities and other group projects. Within the grading policy, guidelines defining student participation and expectations are provided.

Reason: Based on analysis of reviewer comments, it was found that while provider evidence typically addressed the provision of most of the listed communication modes, reviewers felt compelled to anticipate evidence in support of the provision of all of the listed communication modes. This change clarifies that a provider may use any number of methods to support appropriate interaction.

Change date: December, 2010

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Note: This change has been superseded. See below for the more recent change to A12.

A12. The course content includes Opportunities for appropriate instructor-student and student-student interaction to foster mastery and application of the material and a plan for monitoring that interaction.

Learning activities and other learning opportunities are developed to foster require appropriate instructor-student and student-student interaction. The technology and course content encourage exchanges amongst the instructor and students through various modes which may include email, discussions, synchronous chats, simulations, lab activities and other group projects. Within the grading policy, guidelines defining student participation and expectations are provided required.

Reason: Monitoring of student interaction is out-of-scope with the intent of the criterion and the concept isn't supported in the explanatory text.

Change date: January, 2012

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A14. Aligned as appropriate to OSPI's Educational Technology Standards or the ISTE NET 2007 standards.

Reason: The item, as written, was difficult for some national providers to meet, as they didn't have a Washington-specific focus. The change to include the well-known ISTE standards makes this item more inclusive to both national and local providers.

Change date: December, 2010

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Note: This change has been superseded. See below for the more recent change to A14.

A14. Aligned as appropriate to OSPI's Educational Technology Standards or the ISTE NETS 2007 (Students) standards.

Reason: This change clarifies that this criteria is speaking to the the student, not teacher, version of the ISTE NETS standards. The link already previously to the student standards, so this addition clarifies it in text.

Change date: March, 2011

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H2A16. A high level of classroom interaction promoted by instructors using various modes of communication.

The online instructor is prepared to use multiple, varied means of communication with and stimulating participation of online students. Modes include but should not be limited to email, threaded discussions, live chat/whiteboard sessions, document sharing, etc.

Reason: This change moved item H2 into the A section, as this item was more aligned to instructional design (section A) than to staff development and support (section H).

Change date: March, 2011

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Note: This change has been superseded. See below for the more recent change to A16.

A16*. The instructor promotes a A high level of classroom interaction promoted by instructors using various modes of communication.

The online instructor drives instructor-student and student-student exchanges through various modes which may include email, discussions, synchronous chats, simulations, lab activities, and other group projects. is prepared to use multiple, varied means of communication with and stimulating participation of online students. Modes include but should not be limited to email, threaded discussions, live chat/whiteboard sessions, document sharing, etc.

Reason: This change differentiates the A16 language (describing modes/pedagogy) from the A12 language (describing course design). The item was also changed to demo-reliant to encourage providers to show the ways in which instructors can foster classroom interaction.

Change date: January, 2012

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B5. Clearly stated technology Acceptable Use Policiesy (AUP).

Reason: This change clarifies that this criteria is speaking about technology Acceptable Use Policies, not other forms of student policies.

Change date: March, 2011

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C5. Grading rubrics and/or models of partially- to fully-completed assignments available to the students.

Explicit rubrics, Rubrics or models provided to the student include rationale, and/ordesired characteristics are provided to the student and clear expectations for each graded assignments.

Reason: Based on analysis of reviewer comments, it was found that while provider evidence typically addressed the provision of rubrics or models, reviewers felt compelled to anticipate evidence in support of the provision of both. This change clarifies the requirements for both reviewers and applicants.

Change date: December, 2010

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Note: This change has been superseded. This item has been moved from C5 to A7.

C5. A7. * Assessment and assignment rubrics, answers and/or explanations provided to the student.

Assessment rubrics are disclosed in preparation materials for assessments; correct answers and/or explanations are available at the end of assessments. Samples of completed assignments are included as part of instruction.

Reason: This item was moved from A7 to C5. This criterion is more about assessment feedback which belongs in the Assessment category (C).

Change date: January, 2012

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D3. Availability of results of peer review and student evaluations of courses. Opportunities for students and teachers to review and evaluate courses on a regular basis.

Opportunities for students and teachers to review the course are provided. Unless the results are publically accessible, students, parents, and educators are informed that results of reviews and Results of peer reviews and student evaluations of the course are made available upon request. Evidence is shown that these reviews are completed on a regular basis.

Reason: This item was changed to focus the intent of the criterion on the performance of reviews.

Change date: January, 2012

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E3. The provider uses Ppolicies and systems to addressresolve student, school, and parent questions, complaints, and appeals, and recourse if the course/program is not delivered as described.

Complaint mechanisms and protocols are clearly explained and easily accessible to students and schools in advance of need. For school program providers, when coordination with the partnering district is required to implement the policy, evidence may include a model policy.

Reason: This change focuses the intent of the criterion on the system employed to resolve complaints.

Change date: January, 2012

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E4. Disclosure of prerequisite expected technology skills prior to enrollment in a course.

Technology skills are identified in the course description or during the registration process and made available to students before they begin. Technology skills include any skills necessary to be successful in any online course (keyboarding, web navigation, etc.) and any skills (coding, photo editing, etc.) necessary for the specific class. All prerequisite technology skills (coding, photo editing, etc.), necessary for the specific class, are identified in the course description or during the registration process and made available to students before they begin.

Reason: This change clarifies the intent by focusing on technology skills and not on technology hardware and software. It also better accommodates providers who don’t have technology-focused courses.

Change date: January, 2012

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F1. Recognition of mentors within the provider's systems and frameworks as the local/online adult point of contact who is not the course instructor but is available to the student and instructor and as a reliable agent of support to the student's success.

The provider's program, instructional practices, and student support policies clearly identify and engage the mentors.

Reason: This change clarifies the mentor role as not being the course instructor.

Change date: July, 2010

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Note: This change has been superseded. See below for the more recent change to F1.

F1. Recognition of mentors a school-based support person within the provider's systems and frameworks as the local/online adult point of contact who is not the course instructor but is available to the student and instructor and as a reliable agent of support to the student's success.

The provider's program, instructional practices, and student support policies clearly identify and engage the mentors school-based online/local support person who may be recognized as a mentor, advisor, advocate, counselor, proctor, coordinator or other school-based support.

Reason: The "mentor" role may be filled by many school-based personnel using a myriad of titles. This change acknowledges that providers may use different terms to describe their school-based support system.

Change date: December, 2010

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Note: This change has been superseded. See below for the more recent change to F1.

F1. Recognition of aA school-based support person within the provider's systems and frameworks as the local/online adult point of contact who is not the course instructor but is available to the student and instructor and as a reliableresponsible agent of support to the student's success.

The provider's program, instructional practices, and student support policies clearly identify and engage the school-based online/local support person who may be recognized as a mentor, advisor, advocate, counselor, proctor, coordinator or other school-based support.

Reason: This change clarifys the intent of the criterion on this role as a required feature.

Change date: January, 2012

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F2. The means for mentors the school-based support person to support student success, including: which may include: the ability to view course content; technology troubleshooting information; online participation tracking and grading systems; staff online mentor handbook and policies; and frequent and unsolicited engagement by the course instructor.

Reason: The "mentor" role may be filled by many school-based personnel using a myriad of titles. Additionally, analysis of reviewer comments revealed reviewer inclination to anticipate evidence of all of the listed support mechanisms.

Change date: December, 2010

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Note: This change has been superseded. See below for the more recent change to F2.

F2. The means for tThe school-based support person is provided various means to support student success which may include: the ability to view course content; technology troubleshooting information; online participation tracking and grading systems; staff online handbook and policies; and frequent and unsolicited engagement by the course instructor.

Reason: This change focuses on use, and not just the availability of the technology.

Change date: January, 2012

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F3. Training and online support to mentors school-based support person to aid them in navigating the online environment.

In addition to access to student orientations, mentors the school-based support person has the training and resources needed to bolster their use of the student support mechanisms in the mentor their support role.

Reason: The "mentor" role may be filled by many school-based personnel using a myriad of titles.

Change date: December, 2010

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Note: This change has been superseded. See below for the more recent change to F3.

F3. Provider delivers training opportunities to school based support staff on available student support mechanisms and resources. Training and online support to school-based support person to aid them in navigating the online environment.

Training may include some exposure to the student and/or staff versions of the courseware and effective student support techniques and technology troubleshooting guidelines. In addition to access to student orientations, the school-based support person has the training and resources needed to bolster their use of the student support mechanisms in their support role.

Reason: This change expands the intent of the training to be more than just navigating the online environment and clarifys that the training does not need to pertain only to the support person’s role.

Change date: January, 2012

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G3. Online textbooks and materials that meet nationally endorsed standards (NIMAS) for publishers to ensure distribution of accessible, alternative versions of textbooks and other instructional materials.

The National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) is used to ensure textbooks

G3. Online content, textbooks, and other instructional materials (software, videos, etc.) are accessible for all students or an alternative version is available for those students with a disability.

Evidence shows use and availability of multiple delivery methods, adaptations and accommodations.

Reason: NIMAS standards address the adaptation of hard copy materials to an online or electronic format; many materials used in online courses or programs were designed to be online resources. The change keeps the focus on accessibility without proscribing a specific content delivery mechanism.

Change date: December, 2010

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Note: This change has been superseded. See below for the more recent change to G3.

G3. Online content, textbooks, and other instructional materials (software, videos, etc.) are accessible for students with disabilities all students or an alternative version is available for those students with a disability.

Evidence shows use and availability of multiple delivery methods, adaptations and accommodations.

Reason: This change focuses the intent of the criterion more explicitly on accessibility and ensuring that providers accommodate specific disabilities.

Change date: January, 2012

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G4. Course architecture permitting the addition of content, activities, and assessments to extend learning opportunities, as needed.

The teacher of record instructor for the course has access ability to make additions to the content within the learning management system. Access Ability to delete OR remove content is optional. The “original” base course is still available on the LMS to use for other sections of the course or future offerings.

Reason: This change clarifies the intent to promote flexibility to meet student’s needs.

Change date: January, 2012

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H3. New instructors are given extra support in their first year of instruction to ensure their effectiveness and success.

New instructors have a ready supports and resources through formal connections to veteran other instructors; best practices, advice, and experienced insight gleaned from this relationship are intended to allow instructors to lessen the first-year learning curve and foster an air of collaboration.

Reason: As some programs are fairly new, not every online program can offer veteran instructors. The change retains the focus on teacher support and mentoring while broadening the language to ensure inclusiveness.

Change date: December, 2010

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Note: This change has been superseded. H3 was re-numbered to H2. See below.

H3H2. New instructors are given extra support in their first year of instruction to ensure their effectiveness and success.

New instructors have ready supports and resources through formal connections to other instructors; best practices, advice, and experienced insight gleaned from this relationship are intended to allow instructors to lessen the first-year learning curve and foster an air of collaboration.

Reason: This item was renumbered when item H2 was moved into the A section.

Change date: March, 2011

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H4H3. Instructor training in the emotional and social aspects of online learning and in e-mail communications demonstrating proper tone to students.

Online instructors are trained to develop the capacity to identify and mitigate the ways in which the online environment can enhance and hinder the learning experience and have sensitivity to the perception of written online language.

Reason: This item was renumbered when item H2 was moved into the A section.

Change date: March, 2011

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H5H4. Instructor performance reviews conducted on a planned and regularly scheduled basis.

Reason: This item was renumbered when item H2 was moved into the A section.

Change date: March, 2011

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H6H5. Instructor training includes the experience of online learning from the perspective of a student.

Instructor training includes at least some exposure to the student version of the courseware system in order to understand the technical and logistical requirements of, and to be equipped to help the student function effectively in, the online learning environment.

Reason: This item was renumbered when item H2 was moved into the A section.

Change date: March, 2011

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I4. Established and efficiently handled procedures for enrollment fees and payments.

Evidence indicates the means by which the program is able to obtain state basic education funding for students enrolling as part of their full-time equivalent basic education and/or procedures and mechanisms by which fees are gathered for students enrolling supplemental to their full-time equivalent basic education.

Reason: Online school program, online course and course providers employ various means in obtaining funding or payment for student participation. The change clarifies how different programs may address the issues of enrollment fees and/or payments.

Change date: December, 2010

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Note: This change has been superseded. See below for the more recent change to I4.

I4. Established and efficiently handled procedures for enrollment fees and payments.

Evidence indicates the means by which the program provider is able to obtain state basic education funding for students enrolling as part of their full-time equivalent basic education and/or procedures and mechanisms by which fees are gathered for students enrolling supplemental to their full-time equivalent basic education. District providers should show evidence of proper procedures for handling fees and payments, which may include the claiming of state funding, ALE, choice transfers, student fees, and/or course enrollment fees. Non-district providers should show evidence of procedures and mechanisms by which fees are gathered for students enrolling in online courses.

Reason: This change further clarifies the intent of the criterion to focus on the appropriate mechanisms by which providers receive payment or funding for student participation.

Change date: January, 2012

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I5. Accommodations to multiple school calendars and schedules; e.g., and/or flexibility in student enrollment dates.

For programs: registration periods, start dates and end dates allow for students to enroll and start their online courses at or near their point of need. For course and program providers: accommodations to various iterations of school calendars which may include block, 4X4, year-round and traditional schedules.

Reason: Online school program, online course and course providers employ various means in offering flexibility for student participation. This change ensures the focus remains on providing flexible options for students and clarifies how each type of program can meet this standard.

Change date: December, 2010

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Note: This change has been superseded. See below for the more recent change to I5.

I5. Accommodations to multiple school calendars and schedules and/or flexibility in student enrollment dates<.

For programs: rRegistration periods, start dates and end dates allow for students to enroll and start their online courses at or near their point of need. For online course and online program providers: accommodations to various iterations of school calendars which may include block, 4X4, year-round and traditional schedules.

Reason: Online school program, online course and course providers employ various means in offering flexibility for student participation. This change ensures the focus remains on providing flexible options for students and clarifies how each type of program can meet this standard.

Change date: December, 2010

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