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Can Online Teachers Meet State Standards?

May 30, 2024

A classroom full of students with a teacher in front of a whiteboard

Meeting state standards is a concern for all schools, particularly when a state’s criteria can change on a dime. As online education becomes more of a mainstay and less of a fad, in part because it’s an effective teacher shortage solution, the question of what constitutes quality education becomes even more pressing. 

Can these students really keep pace with their face-to-face counterparts or is too much lost in the ether? The answer comes down to preserving rigorous educational standards, both online and in-person. There’s no reason state standards have to suffer simply because a student takes part in virtual learning. 

Here, we look at why state standards matter, how metrics vary, and which approaches yield the best results for online teaching. 

Why Do State Standards in Education Matter?

State standards are the benchmark skills that students must demonstrate by the time they reach a certain grade level. Put simply, before a student can tackle 6th-grade math, they need to be proficient in 5th-grade math. 

Of course, who exactly determines proficiency and which rubric they use can cause confusion and inconsistencies. When these metrics apply to both in-person and remote learners, the best teaching standards must address the root concepts and knowledge that state officials deem important. 

Online teachers face unique challenges as they format and finalize their instructional design. Their students may not only be more distracted without the undisputed authority at the front of the room, but teachers often miss out on the visual cues that can help them adjust their teaching styles in the moment. This is why it’s so important to find online teachers who understand how to meet students where they are, so everyone can venture down the best path. 

Are State Standards Different for Every State?

The U.S. enforces the Common Core Standards across different subjects, though each state is allowed to adopt the standards to meet its curriculum and assessment methods. 

For example, some states put a higher emphasis on algebraic skills at an earlier age, while other states require the integration of data and statistical analysis. If online teachers are unaware of these variances, they can create ineffective learning environments that ultimately set the students up for failure. 

When online classrooms can include students from all over the country, school leaders need to know how teachers deliver concepts and information and which assessment tools teachers use to verify student comprehension. Without oversight, students can fall behind and schools can quickly see their reputations spiral. 

The national standards for quality online education are by no means set in stone. Every time they change, your school’s strategies have to follow. 

How Online Teachers Can Meet State Standards 

Online teachers must have a thorough understanding of the state’s criteria before they can start the school year. This way, they can still add their own flair to the coursework without detracting from the core skills. We’ll look at how this plays out in a virtual setting. 

Tailor Curriculums to State-Specific Standards 

Online teachers, whether in high school or special education, can think of state standards as a blueprint for their syllabi. The lesson plans, learning activities, and assessments should all integrate the standards on some level. 

So maybe a 7th-grade teacher administers a 6th-grade practice exam on the first day of class to gauge the average baseline before they introduce new topics. Or a teacher might focus on critical reading theory in 9th-grade English to prepare them for more stringent demands in junior and senior year. 

Tools like Eduphoria and Unify in virtual schools make it easier to map course content onto state requirements, so there’s less guesswork involved. Teachers can use the software to sketch out the basics and then branch out from there. It’s important to note that tailoring the curriculum doesn’t preclude creativity or fun. There’s plenty of room for both! 

As long as the teacher and online environment remain flexible and adaptable, they can keep up with new expectations and still meet student needs. Platforms like Blackboard and Canva make it easier for teachers to swap out course materials as needed for more relevant options. For example, if a teacher needs to drop a supplemental textbook (and its learning activities), they can replace it without having to redesign the entire course. 

Seek Accreditation and State Approval 

Accreditation and state approval are official recognitions of a school’s academic integrity. Parents who want their children to attend an accredited education program will use these stamps to determine which school is the best for their child.  

To obtain approval, you must first choose either a regional or national accreditation body. (While every institution has its own quirks and systems, they all generally uphold national and state recommendations.)

Once you’ve partnered with the organization, you must prove that your curriculum aligns with its standards. Online programs must also show that students meet the state’s benchmarks. The accreditation body also assesses the educational technology platform, the school’s financial and operational standards, and the teacher’s qualifications. They’re essentially verifying that the school has implemented best practices and prioritized student welfare. 

Engage in Continuous Professional Development 

Ongoing professional development is a must for teachers to remain current with changing state standards and educational practices. For example, some states’ standards prioritize climate change science. As the research evolves, science teachers need to stay on top of new developments and how state officials interpret them. 

Continuous professional development may take the form of one-day seminars or official conferences, but it can also be as simple as virtual teachers convening to discuss the differences between last year’s and this year’s exams. These kinds of informal analyses can help everyone decide how to best present topics and which bullet points to emphasize. 

Use Technology for Compliance 

Technology use can be an excellent tool for monitoring online courses and ensuring they meet state standards. For example, learning management systems (LMS) track online curriculum alignment so school leaders can verify if the course materials and lectures adhere to the state’s educational framework. 

Most public school districts have to fight for resources, but technology is a shortcut that can alert teachers and administrators alike if the curriculum takes an unauthorized detour and digital learning starts to suffer. It’s a cost-effective way to improve compliance without having to revamp entire policies or protocols. 

The best technology initiatives thoroughly evaluate the available platforms and software options before allocating resources. You should clearly define the benefits for students so everyone understands what the technology is and how the school should utilize it. 

Work With Education Consultants and Advisors 

Educational consultants and advisors specialize in helping schools remain state-compliant under even the messiest circumstances. For example, let’s say that an online teacher believes they’re deeply parsing through literary passages, but in reality, the students receive a surface-level explanation of the text’s deeper meaning. 

A specialist can help teachers and administrators align the state’s curriculum with everyday instruction, so students have the best chance of mastering the material. Consultants can also provide tips on how to best approach the most demanding or high-pressure classrooms. 

Teachers can solve the vast majority of state-to-state discrepancies by teaching at a higher level, essentially expecting more from all students regardless of their physical address. To accomplish this feat, consultants and advisors help online schools perfect their curriculum and teacher training for better student outcomes. 

Get Regular Assessments and Feedback 

It’s common for teachers to rush through the year because they need to cover a certain amount of material. However, if they can’t pace their class according to student needs, retention will suffer and so will the students’ performance. Regular assessments and feedback for online teachers help them stay on track with state standards and ensure that students don’t fall behind. 

For example, a peer review of an online teacher’s lesson plan might discover that a unit doesn’t effectively cover the state’s requirements. Or, you can administer student surveys to gauge how prepared students felt while taking the statewide exam. The more consistent and specific your assessments and feedback are, the timelier your interventions will be. 

How Elevate K-12’s Approach to Teacher Standards Can Help 

At Elevate K-12, we take a blended learning approach to help solve the nation’s teacher shortage. With our innovative LIVE teaching, the teacher is virtual while the students are in the classroom.

All of our virtual teachers have a U.S. teaching certification, and they’re thoroughly vetted to ensure they meet or exceed state standards. We complete extensive background checks on every new hire, and we require our teachers to undergo comprehensive training before teaching their first LIVE class. 

Our instructions and expectations are based on years of research and sound pedagogical practices, so students absorb rather than memorize the material. We’ve found that distance learning is far simpler when the teacher is as experienced as they are authoritative. 

Our teachers are not just subject matter experts — they’re also engaging and interactive. Our online instruction combines collaborative learning, formative activities, standard instruction, and deliberate practice. LIVE lessons are similar to a standard class in that students can still talk to one another, raise their hands, and challenge themselves to stretch their skills. 

So far, more than 600 districts in the U.S. trust us to implement industry-wide best practices and standards. We also provide academic coaches to work with teachers, ensuring they get mentorship and feedback to improve their teaching strategies. 

To accomplish our goals, we’ve invested heavily in our technology. Our Elevate LIVE portal is a proprietary web-based platform that was designed to enhance K-12 learning experiences and promote collaboration between students and teachers. To implement our system and create a better learning community, all the classroom needs is a large TV and a reliable internet connection. We take care of the rest.  

Make Online Teacher Compliance Simple With Elevate K-12 

Because every state has its own standards for quality online teaching, even if it’s just to follow the national standards, staying compliant is not always a simple equation. In fact, meeting both student goals and state official goals can feel like a no-win situation. 

If you don’t want to risk your school’s reputation and standing, partners like Elevate K-12 are here to help you meet or exceed state standards with innovative solutions. We are a trusted partner in online learning, and our teachers are proven to comply with any state’s rigorous standards. 

Ready to improve your compliance stats with the state? Contact Elevate K-12 for more information today!

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