Course Design Rubric Standards

Current Edition: Fourth Edition, 2016

Description: The K-12 Secondary Rubric is appropriate for use with locally developed courses or those adapted with significant change from publisher content. There are nine General Standards and 41 Specific Review Standards in this Rubric used to evaluate the design of middle and high school online and blended courses. The Rubric scoring system is used by the Review Team to determine whether a course meets Standards. Standards identified as essential have the highest point values and must be met in order to receive QM Certification*.

Membership Requirements: K-12 Basic or Consortium. This Rubric is also available with an Individual or Supplemental Subscription.

Who uses this Rubric?

The K-12 Secondary Rubric is intended for use with courses that are delivered fully online or have a significant online component (blended courses). Schools, districts and state education agencies use the Rubric to help them design and improve their courses to result in student success. Leading providers of online courses for students in 6th to 12th grades have looked to QM as the national standard for quality assurance in online education and student learning and inform the improvement of this Rubric.  They include: 

  • Teachers, Instructional designers and design teams
  • Students, Parents, Counselors
  • School Administrators
  • Public and Private Virtual Schools and Publishers
  • School Systems, Local and State Boards
  • Teacher Education Faculty
  • College Admissions Officers

Key Features

Unique to the QM Rubric is the concept of Alignment. This occurs when critical course components — Learning Objectives/Competencies (#2), Assessment and Measurement (#3), Instructional Materials (#4), Course Activities and Learner Interaction (#5), and Course Technology (#6) — work together to ensure students achieve desired learning outcomes. Specific Standards included in Alignment are indicated in the Rubric Annotations.

The nine General Standards of this Rubric are:

  1. Course Overview and Introduction
  2. Learning Objectives (Competencies)
  3. Assessment and Measurement
  4. Instructional Materials
  5. Course Activities and Learner Interaction
  6. Course Technology
  7. Learner Support
  8. Accessibility and Usability*
  9. Compliance Standards

Development Notes

The initial standards (released in 2010) and subsequent modifications have been based on the insights of teams of experienced online teachers and instructional designers and on the best practices standards promulgated by national and international organizations such as The Florida Virtual School (FLVS), The International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, and The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB). In addition, the QM Standards have been examined for consistency with the conclusions of the educational research literature regarding factors that improve student learning and retention rates, as well as activities that increase learning and engagement.

Preparing for the Fourth Edition, we took stock of the role of personalized and competency-based learning in today's educational landscape. Read more about how we developed the Fourth Edition.

* Meeting QM's accessibility Standards does not guarantee or imply that specific country/federal/state/local accessibility regulations are met. Please consult with an accessibility specialist to ensure that accessibility regulations are met.