The mission of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, iNACOL, is to ensure all students have access to a world-class education and quality online learning opportunities that prepare them for a lifetime of success.
This document, the International Association for K-12 Online Learning’s (iNACOL) National Standards for Quality Online Programs, is the third of iNACOL’s online education standards, following the National Standards of Quality for Online Courses and National Standards for Quality Online Teaching.
The standards in this document address what is needed for a quality online program, elements of which include quality course design and quality online teaching. However, this set of standards is more than the third of a series – it is intended that these Standards for Quality Online Programs provide the encompassing and over-arching set of standards program leaders need to assure a quality online program.
National Standards for Quality Online Programs is designed to provide states, districts, online programs, and other organizations with a set of quality guidelines for online program leadership, instruction, content, support services, and evaluation. The initiative began with a thorough literature review of existing online program standards, including accreditation standards, a cross-reference of standards, followed by a survey to iNACOL members and experts to ensure the efficacy of the standards adopted.
These guidelines should be implemented and monitored by each district or organization, as they reserve the right to apply the guidelines according to the best interest of the population for which they serve. These standards start by addressing the foundation of the program: its mission, goals, and objectives, and its underlying beliefs and philosophy. Leadership is also addressed: the program’s governance, the role of the governing body and how the relation between the governing body, and organizational/program leadership work together to support the achievement of the mission.
Beyond the foundation of what the program has as its mission, goals, and objectives are the standards that address how the program operates, its teaching and learning standards, and support standards. In this document, we have provided an overview of the most critical of the course design and teaching standards. In addition, a program needs to provide the support mechanisms for student and teacher success in online courses. This document describes the necessary support standards needed for programs designed to supplement schools’ course offerings as well as those programs designed for full-time students. For a fuller description of course design and teaching standards, please refer to iNACOL’s National Standards of Quality for Online Courses and National Standards for Quality Online Teaching. The National Standards for Quality Online Programs are identified on the following pages.