NEWS RELEASES 2015-16 :: JULY 20, 2015


In the digital age, you can find almost anything online, and education is no exception. But what about something like a gym class? Most would think the course name “physical education” implies it can’t be offered virtually. But the North Carolina Virtual Public School, an online school funded by the N.C. General Assembly, is pushing the boundaries of online education by offering a new virtual high school PE course. Macon and New Hanover counties will pilot the program this fall, and the course could potentially expand statewide in spring 2016.

Here’s how it works: NCVPS teachers will provide video demonstration of a physical activity or sport, then students will practice those skills and build their own video portfolios to document their progress and display mastery. Students can be enrolled in the nine-week course for a half-credit option, or they can be enrolled along with the online health course option for full semester credit.

“We knew there was a need to offer PE online, so we thought outside the box and came up with a program that we believe will give students a valuable high school physical education experience,” said Karen Creech, instructional director. “Now that we will provide PE online, NCVPS offers all the courses a student would need to earn a diploma from his or her local high school.”

Students enroll in NCVPS courses for many different reasons. Some students use individualized credit recovery to catch up in courses. Some homebound students use NCVPS to continue courses outside the classroom. Other NCVPS students are pre-professional athletes with rigorous athletic training demands that require an alternate academic schedule. NCVPS courses are especially popular among students in rural school systems whose schools may not offer AP or honors courses that often are required for admission to colleges and universities, said Creech. The school even provides a peer tutoring service for those who need extra help.

While NCVPS doesn’t award diplomas, the school does provide supplemental courses to the local course catalogue in many subjects, including STEM courses such as forensic science and biotechnology as well as professional credential courses in applications such as SharePoint, a Microsoft Office tool used to store, track and manage electronic documents and assets.

NCVPS also has innovative middle school courses, including Discovering Photography, which is provided through a partnership with the North Carolina Museum of Art. Middle School Success 101 is another popular a class on general study skills. Public school students enroll in NCVPS courses through their local school. Private and home school students may contact NCVPS directly to enroll.

Middle and high school students aren’t the only ones engaged in learning through NCVPS. The school also offers teachers continuing education courses such as Individualized Learning and Shattering the Myths of Online and Blended Learning. These courses focus on exploring teaching techniques that ensure student success.

All NCVPS courses are aligned with the N.C. Standard Course of Study as well as Universal Design for Learning (UDL), a practice that presents content and assessments in multiple ways in order to accommodate many styles of learning. This approach enables NCVPS teachers to better target instruction to meet each student’s needs.

This individualized approach fosters stronger teacher-student connections and better academic performance, said Jennifer Nobles, curriculum director. “We are probably the most student-centered organization you’ll come across. We believe strongly in the idea that, when there’s a more personal connection, you’re going to know your students better, and they’re going to work harder for you.”

NCVPS was first established by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2006 to provide access to high quality e-learning courses at no cost to public school students regardless of where they live in the state. Since it opened in 2007, the school has more than 314,600 enrollments and is the second-largest state-run virtual school in the U.S.

To learn more about NCVPS and its courses, visit

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 160 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.