Data & Information
North CarolinaOnline and blended learning policy has undergone significant change in North Carolina since the publication of Keeping Pace in October, 2012. Please click here to read our blog post updating activity in North Carolina.
There are no full-time online programs in North Carolina.
State virtual school
North Carolina’s state virtual school, the North Carolina Virtual Public School (NCVPS), grew out of the recommendations of the e-learning commission within the Business Education Technology Alliance (BETA) created by the Lt. Governor and State Board of Education. NCVPS reports to the State Board of Education, officially opened for the summer 2007 session, and offers courses in grades 9-12. It served 88,716 course enrollments in 2010-11, an increase of 20% from 2009-10.
The Learn and Earn Online (LEO) program, a dual enrollment program that allows public high school students to earn college credits, has been coordinated by NCVPS since 2008 and served over 27,000 students in its first three years. Students in grades 9-12 can take dual-enrollment courses for college credit free of charge at 45 participating community colleges regardless of the college service areas in which they reside. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNC-G) iSchool also had participated in LEO, but ceased operations for fall 2011 due to state budget cuts. In 2011, NCVPS relinquished operation of LEO to the North Carolina Community College System.
The NCVPS funding model recently changed. SB897 (2010) established an allotment formula to “create a sustainable source of funding that increases commensurate with student enrollment” and recognized “the extent to which projected enrollment in e-learning courses affects funding required for other allotments that are based on ADM [average daily membership].” The State Board of Education implemented an initial NCVPS allotment formula in 2010 based on forward funding; the funding was reallocated from school districts to NCVPS based on NCVPS course enrollments from the previous year with an adjustment for projected enrollment growth. The formula created controversy and was revisited in 2011 to rectify inequities between larger and smaller districts. The new formula reduces school district teacher allocations to cover NCVPS instructional costs, resulting in a teacher pay reduction.
The legislation provides two additional sources of funds to operate NCVPS. The first is a reduction to school districts’ per pupil allotment to create funding of $2,866,923 for operation of NCVPS. The second is a $2 million reduction in the per-pupil allotment for an enrollment reserve. This reserve fund covers school district enrollments in NCVPS courses that exceed projections. The funds carry into the next fiscal year and are replenished annually by a school system allocation reduction up to the original $2 million level.
The NCVPS formula is a new and different approach to funding a state virtual school. It addresses concerns that students in state virtual school courses are being funded twice (via local district and state virtual school funds). 2010-11 was the first year districts knew they would be paying for NCVPS courses, and enrollments still went up by 20%, making North Carolina the only state where district administrators are choosing to pay for online supplemental courses from a state virtual school at a relatively high rate.
Legislation prohibits any state-funded entity from offering “elearning opportunities” without the approval of NCVPS: “All e-learning opportunities offered by state funded entities to public school students are consolidated under the North Carolina Virtual Public School program, eliminating course duplication.” State board policy also places similar restrictions on for-credit online courses supplied by vendors: “Any K-7 e-learning course or 8-12 course taken for credit toward a diploma must first be approved for credit by the NC Virtual Public School.” State policy also instructs NCVPS to “consider whether the course meets the SREB (Southern Regional Education Board) and/or iNACOL criteria for awarding credit."
Though there are no significant district programs, the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM) is a public, residential high school for gifted, high performing juniors and seniors that is offering a combination of online and face-to-face courses for its students. NCVPS has a Memorandum of Agreement with NCSSM that authorizes them to offer online course to students who qualify to attend the NCSSM but cannot be accommodated due to limited space.
Online learning policy history
Session Law 2005-276 (2005) created the pilot for North Carolina Virtual Public School. Legislation prohibits any state-funded entity from offering “e-learning opportunities” without the approval of NCVPS. The legislation requires NCVPS to “prioritize e-learning course offerings for students residing in rural and low-wealth county LEAs.” State board policy also places similar restrictions on for-credit online courses supplied by vendors. State policy also instructs NCVPS to “... consider whether the course meets the SREB (Southern Regional Education Board) and/or iNACOL criteria for awarding credit ...” SB897 (2010, also Session Law 2006-66 Section 7.16) created a sustainable funding formula for NCVPS. SB897 also prohibits other state funding going to NCVPS, places a 15% cap on operations with 85% going to teacher pay, limits courses to those for high school grades only, and does not allow physical education to be taught online. It also confirms that NCVPS will use funds generated by the new formula to provide online courses to all students who are enrolled in North Carolina’s public schools at no cost. Students must get permission to enroll in NCVPS courses through their local school district.
Session Law 2011-145 removes the cap on operating costs for NCVPS and removes prohibitions against offering physical education and offering courses to grades K-8. It also confirms that NCVPS will use funds generated by the new formula to provide online courses to all public school students at no cost to the student. Students must get permission to enroll in NCVPS courses from their school district. The new legislation also directs NCVPS to develop a plan to offer courses to non-public schools and out-of-state educational entities. It also provides an exemption from G.S. 66-58(c) that prohibits state-funded entities from competing with commercial companies.
In 2011, SB8 significantly revised charter school law in North Carolina, but it did not specifically address virtual charter schools.
last updated February 18, 2013back to map