“Having experience as a reviewer makes the [review process] less scary.”Medina Boggs, Curriculum Coordinator
Quality Matters Official Reviews stand as the gold standard for evaluating course design and play a critical role in any quality assurance plan. The journey to official reviews can take different paths. Some institutions jump right in, while others build momentum that ultimately moves them to official reviews.
VirtualSC — a free, state-sponsored online program serving South Carolina students in grades 6-12 and Adult Education Programs — started its journey to official reviews in 2014 when it became a QM K-12 member. “We began with training our full-time teachers and Curriculum team staff,” shared Deirdre Edwards, VirtualSC’s Curriculum Team Leader. “All of our instructional designers became QM-Certified Reviewers and our full-time teachers took the Applying the K-12 Secondary Rubric workshop.”
The professional development opportunities provided the VirtualSC team with a solid understanding of QM principles and moved them to the next step on their path to official reviews — embedding QM Standards into their course-building process. As Medina Boggs, VirtualSC’s Curriculum Coordinator, explained, the team “worked hard to make internal course design standards consistent.” They also created an internal review checklist to ensure that courses aligned to QM Standards as they were built.
Simultaneously, VirtualSC’s QM-Certified Reviewers began participating in QM-Managed Reviews for schools and districts across the country, exposing them to a host of benefits, including best practices, and providing them with a front row seat to the review process. It was also another important step in VirtualSC’s journey to official reviews. “Having experience as a reviewer makes the [review process] less scary,” said Medina. “And being part of the QM community makes it more collegial.”
Their involvement with the QM community through serving as reviewers was one key to knowing they were ready to move to official reviews. The other? The initial courses they built based on QM Standards were in use and receiving positive feedback. So, they dove in and submitted their first courses for review.
Undergoing official reviews is not the end of the journey, though. Instead, it is a key part of a continuous improvement process. Through the review process, VirtualSC has identified areas for improvement, including clarifying internal processes, procedures, and resource access that may not be clear to external stakeholders. And they’re not done yet. “As new waves of courses reach maturity, we will continue to review courses until our entire catalog of initial credit courses has been reviewed,” declared Deirdre. “Having quality online courses is part of our mission and having QM-Certified courses provides external validation that we are meeting our mission.”
VirtualSC knew they were ready to move to official reviews but readiness can vary from organization to organization depending on an organization’s quality assurance goals. To see if you are ready, check out “Preparing for K-12 Course Reviews — Steps for Success.”