Virtual School Meanderings

January 22, 2017

Worth A Read

A regular Sunday feature…

Worth A Read

Billions in School Improvement Spending But Not Much Student Improvement

Posted: 18 Jan 2017 09:00 PM PST

Sarah Sparks writes about a new study from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), which released its final evaluation of the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program. Sparks’ blog quotes Lisa Dragoset, Mathematica Policy Research, ”Overall, we didn’t find evidence that schools implementing SIG-funded models significantly changed student outcomes more or less than other similar low-performing schools.”

Why the Proficiency-Versus-Growth Debate Matters for Assessing School Performance

Posted: 18 Jan 2017 09:00 PM PST

Matt Chingos discusses the difference between proficiency and growth for assessing school performance. He writes, “The Every Student Succeeds Act, NCLB’s successor, provides states with much greater discretion in how they measure school performance, including in the relative importance assigned to proficiency versus growth measures. The evidence makes clear that growth measures should receive significant weight if schools are to be judged based on how well they serve students rather than on which students they serve.”

So-called ‘right-to-work’ laws will lower wages for union and nonunion workers in Missouri

Posted: 18 Jan 2017 09:00 PM PST

Ross Eisenbrey discusses potential “right to work” legislation in Missouri. “These bills won’t lead to more manufacturing plants or better jobs or anything good. They lead only to weaker unions, less bargaining power for Missouri workers, and lower wages.”

LFA Groups Express Concerns on DeVos Nomination

Posted: 17 Jan 2017 09:00 PM PST

“A coalition of more than 30 national education groups, including six Learning First Alliance members, is urging the U.S. Senate to thoroughly investigate Betsy DeVos’ nomination to become the next U.S. Secretary of Education. The groups circulated a letter to members of the Senate HELP Committee in advance of DeVos’ confirmation hearing this evening.”

Barnum: The Growth vs. Proficiency Debate and Why Al Franken Raised a Boring but Critical Issue

Posted: 17 Jan 2017 09:00 PM PST

Matt Barnum discusses the student growth versus proficiency debate. The discussion is relevant because of Sen. Al Franken’s questioning of Betsy DeVos during her confirmation hearing. “In short, studies suggest that achievement growth measures better capture the effect of schools and avoid the negative side effects of proficiency. Proficiency can provide important information about how students are performing — but very little about how schools are doing.”

Understanding Teacher Morale

Posted: 04 Jan 2017 09:00 PM PST

The Metropolitan Educational Research Consortium (MERC) at Virginia Commonwealth University studied the impact of teacher satisfaction in seven school districts. “The report shares both the process and the findings of this collaborative research effort. This research project was also designed to support action by local policy makers, school division leaders, central office personnel, principals, and teachers.”

EBSCO Alerts

ebscoFirst I did not receive the alert for virtual school this week.

Next, I did receive the alert for cyber school, but there were no relevant items.

Finally, once again I did not receive the alert for K-12 online learning.

So nothing to report again this week…

January 21, 2017

New year, new opportunities to learn | McREL e-News

A final item today from Thursday’s inbox…

January 2017

New year, new opportunities!
Last year, McREL celebrated 50 years of serving educators around the world. We’re grateful for every opportunity we’ve had to work with educators around the world, and we’re looking forward to the next 50 years of helping teachers, leaders, and students flourish. All the best to you in 2017!
Free 30-minute consultation

Need help planning a new project or ideas for recharging an important initiative? Wondering how to make sense of data or how to better connect action plans to goals? Contact us today for a 30-minute strategic session with one of our expert consultants. No fee, no obligations, just good ideas and inspiration for “quick wins” and “game changers” in your school, district, agency, or system.

Let us know how we can help!

Research Roundup

Executive Function: Implications for education
U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences (IES)
A new paper published by the National Center for Education Research (NCER) and the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER) gives an overview of research on how executive function skills relate to learning. The authors conclude that executive functioning is integral to the academic and social development of students, but that better measurement tools are needed to fully understand the effects of school interventions intended to improve executive function skills.

Teacher Stress and Health: Effects on teachers, students, and schools
The Pennsylvania State University and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

This research brief identifies four major causes of teacher stress: school organization (leadership, climate, and culture); job demands; work resources, including support and autonomy in decision-making; and teachers’ personal resources and social-emotional competence. These stressors, according to the report, rival levels experienced by doctors and nurses, and can lead to poor performance by teachers and their students, as well as higher rates of teacher turnover.

School leadership Interventions Under the Every Student Succeeds Act: Evidence review
Rand Corporation

This report from Rand Corporation delves into the evidence base on effective school leadership —- outlining seven specific findings that demonstrate its effect on student achievement —- and presents opportunities provided by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to develop strong, evidence-based, strategic school leadership interventions. Note: In the report, Rand includes McREL’s Balanced Leadership® professional development as an activity that may meet ESSA Tier I evidence standards.

New from McREL

Success Story | Reducing variability leads to achievement gains in large Nebraska district
Lincoln Public Schools, a large and rapidly growing district in Nebraska, was looking to increase the quality and consistency of effective instruction across its schools. Using the research-based instructional strategies of McREL’s Classroom Instruction That Works provided the consistency the district needed and led to better teaching practices and improved student achievement.

Quality questioning is a process that begins with preparing questions to engage all students in thinking and ends in the facilitation of dialogue that deepens learning. This new edition organizes questioning practices around the “6 Ps” framework —- Prepare and Present the Question, Prompt Student Thinking, Process Student Responses, Polish Questioning Practices, and Partner with Students —- and contains significant new research-based practices and insights. Learn more.

Research Matters | What skills do students really need for a global economy?
In the December issue of ASCD’s Educational Leadership, McREL CEO Bryan Goodwin weighs in with the research on how much students can affect their own destinies. “We might wonder how we can help students living with constant reminders of adverse external forces flip the script, so to speak, and see themselves as subjects who can act-not simply be acted upon,” he writes. Read his column.

Blog Post | Higher-order questioning inspires higher-level thinking
Cheryl Abla and Lisa Maxfield offer ideas to inspire higher-level questioning in the classroom, which, they say “can greatly extend classroom conversations and learning.” Read their blog post.

Blog Post | Teachable Life Lessons: Hula hoops® and fishy handshakes
Cheryl Abla shares some powerful, quick classroom exercises that can help students become responsible, respectful, caring adults. Read her blog post.

Events & Opportunities

Twitter Slow Chats

We are hosting a weekly series of slow chats on Twitter and we’d love your participation. Follow us on Twitter and use the hashtag #McRELchat to share your thoughts and ideas on each week’s theme with other educators:

Jan 16-22 | Accepting and celebrating differences
Our discussion will center around school climate and culture, and ways to build trust in the classroom. How do you promote risk-taking and questioning in your school?

Jan 23-29 | Parent communication and engagement
We’ll discuss ways to help parents and guardians support their students at home. How do you engage with parents and guardians and help them support their students?

Jan 30-Feb 5 | Learning from mistakes
We want to know what you think about effort, perseverance, grit, and mindsets. What mistakes have you learned from and changed? How do you teach and promote effort and grit?

McREL Summer PD Institutes

Registration is now open for our summer professional learning workshops and institutes. Join us in Denver for high-impact sessions that will expand your knowledge and ability to make significant changes in teaching, leading, and learning. You’ll leave each session with research-based, best-practice strategies  strategies you can use immediately to help you —- and your students —- flourish.

Classroom Instruction That Works PD Workshop
Denver, Colo., June 19-21, 2017

Classroom Instruction That Works Authorized Facilitator Training
Denver, Colo., June 19-23, 2017

Balanced Leadership® for School-Level Leaders
Denver, Colo., July 11-14, 2017

District Leadership That Works
Denver, Colo., July 17-18, 2017

Classroom Instruction That Works with English Language Learners
Denver, Colo., July 19-20, 2017

Upcoming Conference

AASA National Conference on Education
New Orleans, Louis., March 2-4
Stop by the AASA exhibit hall at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and visit with McREL at booth #537. Our chief program officer, Dr. Robin Jarvis, will be on hand to share information about school and system improvement services, leadership development, teacher training and coaching, and research and program evaluation services. To set up a specific time to visit with Dr. Jarvis or other McREL staff during the conference, contact Madonna Shafer at or 303.459.5043.
To learn more and register, please visit the  AASA conference website.
Visit our events page or contact McREL to learn more about other upcoming conferences and events.


Life sciences have critical importance to Guam
One of GreenSTEM’s greatest strengths is its relevancy to local issues and students’ lives. Students in Guam are learning that life sciences have critical importance to their local challenges. Read about our work in this story from KUAM News.
McREL: Helping educators flourish
“With more consistency across classrooms, 
the quality of instruction and achievement have gone up.”
Sarah Salem, Director, Continuous Improvement and Professional Learning,
Lincoln Public Schools, Nebraska
Follow on Twitter
Quick Links
Join Our Mailing List
Follow McREL
on social media
Follow us on Twitter  View our profile on LinkedIn  Like us on Facebook  View our videos on YouTube
McREL International
4601 DTC Blvd., Suite 500
Denver, CO 80237
Copyright © 2017, McREL International. All Rights Reserved.

McREL International, 4601 DTC Blvd., Suite 500, Denver, CO 80237

[AECT] Looking to get Your Works Published? 2017 Call for Proposals

Also from Thursday’s inbox…

Click here to view as webpage

NCVPS E-lert for Jan. 19, 2017 – Winter Edition II –

A newsletter from Thursday’s inbox…

Districts and Charter Schools,
Please forward this E-lert to your school-level stakeholders. We often have enrollment information for counselors, grades for data managers, tips for lab facilitators, announcements for testing coordinators, and strategies for school leaders, all of whom support your district’s and school’s e-learning efforts. If you are having difficulty viewing this email, you may view it as a web page here.
NCVPS E-lert for Jan. 19, 2017 – Winter Edition II

CalendarCheckCalendar Check
Fall 2016
End Dates
Early Calendar: Dec. 16
Early Grades: Dec. 21
Traditional Calendar: Jan. 13
Traditional Grades: Jan 19
Spring 2017
Start Dates
Early Calendar: Jan. 4
Traditional Calendar:  Jan. 23
Day 3 No-Show Report
Early Calendar:  Jan. 9
Traditional Calendar: Jan. 26
*Find this document in the registration system. It will show which students have not logged in yet. Please contact those students.
Day 7 No-Show Report
Early Calendar: Jan. 13
Traditional Calendar: Feb. 1
*Find the Day 3 and Day 7 no-show reports in our registration system (click “Reports.”) These reports show which students have not logged in. Please contact them to see if they need help or if they need to be dropped.
Last Day to Drop and Add
Early Calendar: Jan. 18
Traditional Calendar: Feb. 3
This is the last day districts and schools can drop students with no penalty for the student and no cost for the district or charter.
See our calendar for progress report dates. We post updates every two weeks throughout the semester.
ReportingOverviewNCVPS Reporting Overview

Progress Reports 
See how your students are progressing! We post progress reports every two weeks in the registration system. These are unweighted grades.
Final Grade Report 
Only our final grade report is a weighted grade report.
Student Status (No-Show) Reports 
NCVPS posts student status reports after the third and seventh days of class. These reports indicate if students have logged in or not to their NCVPS courses. These reports are early warning indicators for schools.
Additional Grade Reporting Resources
Essential Links

NCVPS Is Hiring Teachers

Celebrate & Connect

Connect with us on Twitter! Find us here. Tweet to us on Twitter at @ncvps or with the hashtag #ncvps.

E-lert Subscription
If you are not on the E-lert subscription list, but would like to be, please add your name to our list here.

Current E-lert News


Final grades for Fall 2016 were posted today.  See the NCVPS report card update for details.
Traditional calendar classes begin on Jan. 23, and we are still enrolling. Traditional enrollment closes on Feb. 3; although, you will have other enrollment options after that.
See all the details below.
Updated This Week
Tech Treats – An NCVPS Technology Newsletter
Important From Last Week!
In addition, be sure to check out all of our tips and reminders in this week’s e-lert.

TechTreatsTech Treats – An NCVPS Technology Newsletter

As part of our commitment to communication and customer service, we are pleased to announce NCVPS Tech Treats.  Our goal with this newsletter is to highlight and share Canvas updates and technology tips.
In this issue of NCVPS Tech Treats:
  • Homepage Announcements
  • Course Dashboard
  • Password Resets

TOYUdateNCVPS Teacher of Year Finalists Announced

We would like to congratulate the following NCVPS teachers who have been named the Top 5 candidates in the NCVPS 2016-2017 Teacher of the Year selection process. We know that many schools have developed a great relationship with many of our teachers, and that you would want to see this update.
Here are the five finalists:
Joy Crosby – OCS Algebra
Kimberly Rushton – English IV Honors
Teryn Odom – Spanish II
Shara Packman – Latin I
Laurie Sloan – AP Art History
These teachers will move to Phase 2 and out of this group will come this year’s winner.
We are very proud of the work all of our teachers are doing and wish these candidates the very best as they move forward.
Best wishes to everyone for a successful new year.
Teacher of the Year Process
Our Teacher of the Year selection team has been busy calculating scores from Phase 1 submissions for this year’s nominees.
To remove bias and help maintain the integrity of the selection process, the first phase includes “blind scoring,” in which selection team members were provided with the responses only and individual teacher names were removed from the submissions.
Each year, our TOY candidate pool becomes more and more competitive, and we believe this is because NCVPS has a phenomenal group of teachers who go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure students are successful!

OCSRegistrationSpring 2017 OCS Registration

Before a school registers students, the school and OCS F2F (face-to-face) teacher should be willing to teach the OCS courses in the online learning environment and be committed to the co-teaching partnership with the NCVPS online Content Teacher.
School registrations will not be official until schools provide NCVPS with the names of their classroom OCS teachers who will partner with the NCVPS teacher. School ELAs will be asked to provide the name of the OCS classroom teacher for each course before each semester begins. They will submit this information to the NCVPS OCS Registration Team via a F2F Teacher Designation Form (google doc).  School ELAs will be contacted by email in order to provide this information.
Please be sure your contact information in the registration system is current. We will send the designation form to the ELA contact information in the registration system.
For complete details on the OCS registration process, see our OCS page at this link.

CourseExtensionsCourse Extensions

We will begin accepting requests for fall extensions January 6th for traditional block courses.

If large portions of the course are missing, an extension won’t help the student.  The student will need to be re-enrolled for spring courses.

Please submit an extension request through the Virtual Support Center.

FallUpdatesFall 2016 Updates

CurrentPostedGradesWhat Grades Are Currently Posted?
January 9: Early Calendar Day 3 Status Report Posted in the NCVPS Registration System
January 13: Early Calendar Day 7 Status Reports Posted in the NCVPS Registration System
January 19: Fall Block Courses Final Grades w/ Anticipated EOC/CTE Scores Posted in the NCVPS Registration System
January 19: Yearlong Progress Reports Posted in the NCVPS Registration System
What’s Next on the Schedule? 
January 26: Day 3 Status Report for Traditional Calendar Classes.
See our sidebar to find an overview of NCVPS grade reporting.

SpringUpdatesSpring 2017 Updates

Registration is still open for spring courses. We will continue to register until Feb. 3 for traditional calendar courses, which is our tenth day of class.
Follow this link to our registration system.
If you need access, contact our Virtual Support Center here. Please remember that there is only one login per school.  If your school already has access, you will need to share the login username and password.
If you are new to the NCVPS registration system or need a refresher, the guide at this link will help.
Don’t panic if your students land the waitlist when you register them. Our instructional directors look at the waitlists daily to determine if a new section needs to be opened or if a current section needs to be expanded.
We do have a few courses operating at capacity, however.  See the list of courses at capacity here.  If a student is waitlisted in a course that is at capacity, the only way the student will move off the waitlists is if an already enrolled student drops the course.
This template is a guide to give to students before classes begin. It has a place for all the essential details to help students get started with their NCVPS courses.
You will need to fill in some of the details or you can have students come to you and complete the details themselves. You can print the template for students, or you can copy and paste it into an email that you send to students.
Here’s the link to the template . Feel free to add your own details!
Start Dates
Early Calendar: January 4
Traditional Calendar: January 23
Day 3 Status Report
Early Calendar: Jan. 9
Traditional Calendar: Jan. 26
*Find this document in the registration system. It will show which students have not logged in yet. Please contact those students.
Day 7 Status Report
Early Calendar: Jan. 13
Traditional Calendar: Feb. 1
*Be sure to check the Day 3 and Day 7 reports to determine which students have not logged in. Please contact them to see if they need help or if they need to be dropped.
Last Day to Drop and Add
Early Calendar: Jan. 18
Traditional Calendar: Feb. 3
This is the last day districts and schools can drop students with no penalty for the student and no cost for the district or charter.
See our calendar for progress report dates. We post updates every two weeks throughout the semester.
Coming soon!
Coming soon!
 See our sidebar to find an overview of NCVPS grade reporting.
Parents and facilitators can now download the CanvasParent app in both the iTunes and  Google Play stores.

Parents and facilitators will need student login information to set up their parent accounts. This will have to come from the school. NCVPS cannot supply login credentials to parents or facilitators. Check with your school’s e-learning advisor (ELA).
The Canvas Parent app is designed to provide visibility into a student’s progress at a glance. Canvas Parent allows both parents and facilitators to:

  • View assignment descriptions and due dates
  • Set reminders for assignments
  • View assignment grades
  • View course grades
  • Set grade alerts
  • View course announcements
Here are several helpful links:
Parents and facilitators can also use the Parent Portal online. Directions on how to use the portal are here.

NCVPS teachers have a lot of great tips to share with online students and the support crews who facilitate their learning. “They know a thing or two because they’ve seen a thing or two.”
NCVPS has a nationally recognized peer tutoring program. Our student tutors a have strong working knowledge of the courses in which they tutor and a recommendation from an NCVPS teacher.
Peer Tutors can help your students better understand their course structure and course content. They are only an appointment away in our Upswing! platform, which can be accessed from any course. Have students look for the Peer Tutoring button in their courses:
Once students make contact with a Peer Tutor, they may want to schedule a regular tutoring time so that they can stay on top of their course. Our Peer Tutors are available for Quick Questions and one-on-one sessions.

NCFETEstingNCFE Testing Update
Please remember that districts and charter schools must test all students enrolled in NCVPS courses that have a North Carolina Final Exam. This includes OCS courses that are taught jointly between the LEA and NCVPS.

Twenty-eight courses have NCFEs:
English 1, 3, 4
American History: Civics, World History, American History 1 and 2
Physical Science, Earth/Environmental Science, Chemistry, Physics
Math 2, Math 3, Advanced Functions and Modeling, Pre-Calculus
Please check your rosters to see if you have students enrolled in these courses with NCVPS. You will need to administer the NCFE test to them. You do not need to report the scores back to NCVPS, but you will need it to determine the final grade for students in those courses.
DPI’s Accountability Services will communicate with districts and charters about the testing windows.

RepordcardUpdateNCVPS Report Card Update
Beginning Fall 2016, NCVPS will no longer report two grading period averages for students. Instead, NCVPS will report cumulative progress reports every two weeks. At the end of the semester, we will report a Final Course Work grade.
In the past, our weighted grades for report cards looked like this:
First Grading Period: 37.5%
Second Grading Period: 37.5%
Final Exam/Project: 25%
*Schools administered EOC and CTE Exams and averaged in those scores with our two grading period averages.
Now, our weighted grades will look like this:
Final Course Work Grade: 75%
Final Exam/Project: 25%
*Schools now administer EOC, NCFE, and CTE Exams and average in those scores with our Final Course Work grade.
As always, schools may recalculate grades if the district policy has different weights for the final exams.
NOTE: NCVPS progress report grades are not weighted grades. Therefore, our progress report grades would not be accurate for schools to use when they are generating their weighted Quarter 1 and Quarter 2 or Midterm and End term (or whatever variation a district might use) report card grades. The school’s final averages and NCVPS’s final course work grade will not match each other when districts do this.
A number of districts are only entering NCVPS grades at the end of the term. Districts use a similar method when students take courses at the local community college. These districts are sending home separate NCVPS progress reports when they mail home progress reports, Quarter 1, or Midterm grades.

Tech Updates
ChromebookUpdateChromebook Update
Google Chromebooks are currently supported for NCVPS Courses.
Google Chromebook and Chrome OS are possible options for you to consider to support your learning at NCVPS. While NCVPS learning environments are fully compatible with Google Chromebooks, some third party content within your courses may not yet be updated to meet the requirements set forth within the Chrome Operating System. If you experience an interruption in your learning, please open a help desk ticket at and we will make reasonable accommodations to support your learning experience.
Students are able to open a help ticket with our Virtual Support Center when they are logged into Canvas.
When “Page Not Found” appears users should open a Virtual Support tickets by clicking on the ? Help button then clicking on “Enter a NCVPS Help Desk Ticket.”
Password Reset
If you have had your password reset, the new password will not expire unless you have reset it. If you have forgotten what your password was reset to, you can look up the help desk ticket to access the new password or click on “Forgot Password”.
When requesting help regarding a course it always easier for tech support to respond quickly if we have the specific section name, for example:
When opening a ticket with the virtual support center, please always include the following:
  • Student’s first & last name
  • PowerSchool ID number (This will help ensure we have the correct student)
  • School name (full name, i.e. Eastern Mills High School, not EMHS)
  • Course name – if the student is already enrolled,  include specific section, i.e. CourseSec01Sum16.
If you need a new student account for a student who is new to PowerSchool (not just transferring schools), include the following:
  • Your full school name (i.e. Eastern Mills High School, not EMHS)
  • The student’s first and last name
  • The student’s PowerSchool ID number
  • The student’s email address
  • The student’s phone number (the contact number this will be in PowerSchool)
  • Does the student have an IEP? Yes/No
  • Does the student have a 504 Plan? Yes/No
Replying to a Support Center Ticket
After you submit a ticket to the Virtual Support Center, you will receive a ticket confirmation and resolution via email. To expedite your resolution, please do not reply to the email. The email will have a link in it for your response. Please click on that link (see below).
This will put the ticket right back in the queue of the person who is working on your ticket. If you reply to the email, then that will have to be manually put into the ticket, and that can delay the process by several hours.
In Canvas:
Click on “settings” on your name in the upper right side of your course.
Click on “Add Email Address” under Ways to Contact on the right of screen.
Add your correct email if Canvas is not displaying your correct email.
Click on “Register email.”
Click the star next to your correct email address.
javaflashUpdatesJAVA and Flash Updates
Please update your Java to Version Java 8, Update 111.
Head to and follow the instructions from there.

Please go to the following link to update Adobe Flash Player to the latest Version

Many students visit our homepage to log in to their courses. It is a best practice to bookmark the actual login pages for Canvas. Please have students and lab facilitators bookmark the following page:
In addition, many school administrators visit our homepage to log in to our registration system or Virtual Support Center. Please bookmark both of these pages in your web browser:
Virtual Support Center:
For additional information, please see our Tech Requirements:

Course Catalogues
NCVPS Courses
NCVPS offers over 150 different courses, including advanced placement, electives, traditional, honors, core, STEM, occupational course of study, and credit recovery courses.
VendorApprovedUpdatesVendor Approved Courses

In addition to NCVPS courses, North Carolina public schools also have a list of approved third-party vendor courses that they may choose from for virtual classes. Please follow this link to see the list of approved vendor courses. More on the vendor approval process can be found here.

Here are the newest approved vendor courses: (Course Title – Vendor)

Courses – Vendor
AP Computer Science A – Edmentum
Business Law – OdysseyWare
Health – Fuel Education
Marketing – OdysseyWare
Personal Finance – Fuel Education
Principles of Business & Finance – OdysseyWare
Small Business & Entrepreneurship – OdysseyWare
Social Studies Grade 4 – Connections Education
North Carolina Virtual Public School
1017 Main Campus Drive, Partners I Bldg.,
SUITE 3900, Raleigh, NC 27606
Phone:  919-513-8550   |  Fax:  919-513-2557  |

Like us on Facebook   Follow us on Twitter

Adam Renfro
Outreach and Support Coordinator
North Carolina Virtual Public School

North Carolina Virtual Public School | 1017 Main Campus Drive, Partners I Bldg., 
SUITE 3900 | Raleigh | NC | 27606
NCVPS Virtual Support Center:
« Previous PageNext Page »

Blog at