As of April 2019, the University of California has an updated online course publisher policy that supports quality online A-G courses through shared oversight.
- Visit the FAQs page for answers to specific questions about the updated policy.
Online course publisher policy
Online course publishers can now register to be included in UC's publicly available directory that will serve as a statewide resource to California high schools seeking online courses to fulfill A-G subject requirements for University admissions.
Online course publishers are eligible to register for the directory if they meet at least #1 through #4 of the following criteria:
- Author their own curriculum;
- Rely on the student’s home high school to report the completed online course (grades and credits earned) on the student’s official high school transcript;
- Submit documentation (e.g., letter of intent, purchase agreement) that public high schools in at least two California school districts (or at least two private high schools) have committed to using the online publisher’s courses for their students’ college preparation (i.e., to fulfill A-G subject requirements); and
- Agree to maintain at least two years of data on California high school course enrollments for UC audit purposes.
- Only for publishers offering instructors with their online courses: Online course publishers that also employ instructors must earn accreditation as a supplementary education center/program from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
Annual online publisher A-G course verification
UC will conduct a random review of self-reported online publisher courses during the annual A-G course submission period.
- Online course publishers that authored the randomly identified courses will be asked to submit course descriptions via the A-G Course Management Portal (CMP) to be reviewed using existing A-G course review procedures and A-G course criteria.
- Courses that do not align with the A-G course criteria will be removed from high schools’ A-G course lists for the upcoming academic year and online course publishers and high schools will be notified. Reasons for removal will be shared for recalibration of principal certification processes, and opportunities for A-G training will be offered, as needed.
- Online course publishers whose college-prep courses are found more than once to not align with A-G course criteria will be removed from UC’s directory of registered online course publishers. Such publishers will need to have the specific course(s) in question certified by Quality Matters before they may register again to re-join UC's directory.
Annual online publisher A-G course verification timeframe
The timeframe for the random review of online publisher courses is as follows:
- May 1 - May 15: Eligible online publisher courses are selected for verification and publishers are notified.
- May 15 - July 31: Online publishers may submit course descriptions through the A-G Course Management Portal (CMP) for selected courses.
- One opportunity for resubmission is provided.
- Resubmissions must be in by July 31.
- Courses selected for verification in the current period, and subsequently approved, are exempt from being selected in the future.
- Courses self-reported by schools after the course verification period ends on July 31 will be considered for selection the following year.
UC-endorsed online courses from K-12-focused publishers
If an online course publisher independently seeks and earns Quality Matters (QM) certification for their courses:
- The registered online course publisher will be spotlighted in UC's public directory.
- The online course publisher’s QM-certified courses will be exempt from UC’s annual online A-G course verification process.
Online course publisher directory
Online course publishers that had an active A-G reference list prior to January 2020 now appear in UC’s new publicly available directory of online course publishers. UC no longer maintains individual online course publisher A-G reference lists, and instead maintains a single directory listing all online course publishers registered with UC.
UC's new directory will serve as a statewide resource to California high schools seeking online college-prep courses by identifying all online course publisher options that UC recognizes. Online course publishers no longer submit courses to UC for review and A-G approval. Rather, schools now: 1) certify that the online courses from their selected UC-registered online course publisher(s) are comparable to A-G courses offered at the high school, and 2) self-report the courses to UC so that they are added to the school’s A-G course list along with all the non-online courses they also offer.
Adding online publisher courses to schools' A-G course lists
As of February 1, 2020, the process to add online publisher courses to a school’s A-G course list involves the high school certifying that the online courses from their selected UC-registered online course publisher(s) are comparable to A-G courses offered at the high school, and then self-reporting the courses to UC. Specifically, here are the steps:
Please review this video demonstration, which walks schools through the process of self-reporting an online publisher course.
1. CERTIFY: Principal certification of online publisher courses
- Principal certification is a process by which a California high school can review coursework that is completed through another institution, organization, or program that does not have an A-G list.
- Principals must certify online publisher courses are comparable to A-G courses offered at the high school. Online courses must meet UC faculty’s A-G course criteria for the relevant subject area.
- Online courses must also incorporate clear measures for ensuring the integrity of student assessments. Refer to the Quality Matters standards or the National Standards for Quality Online Learning for guidance on student assessments, and especially Standard B in the National Standards for Quality Online Courses, which outlines content guidelines, including explicit expectations for academic integrity.
- UC faculty expect that principal certification follows a careful review of the course by the principal, department chair, district curriculum director, or other qualified school/district personnel. UC strongly recommends such reviews be conducted using national standards for quality K-12 courses, as issued by Quality Matters or the National Standards for Quality Online Courses.
- Principals will designate their certification by granting permission for the course(s) to be listed on the student’s official high school transcript, along with credits granted and letter grades earned.
2. SELF-REPORT: High schools self-report online courses from UC-registered online course publishers
- To add online course publisher courses to their A-G course lists, high schools will self-report principal-certified online publisher courses via the A-G Course Management Portal (CMP) during the annual A-G course submission period (February 1 - June 30).
- Schools can self-report principal-certified courses from any online course publisher that is listed in UC’s online course publisher directory.
- Self-reported courses will appear on schools’ A-G course lists along with all the non-online courses they also offer.
UC's online learning guidelines
Any institution that offers an online course and includes it on their A-G course list must certify in the A-G Course Management Portal that their institution is in compliance with UC's online learning guidelines.
This certification is required when an online course is added to an A-G course list for the first time and must be completed by an institution’s A-G course list manager (or head of institution) in each subsequent year that online courses are included on the institution’s A-G list.
The University's requirements for institutions offering online courses are as follows:
- All students should have equal access to all courses for which they are qualified, regardless of socioeconomic status, disabilities, or other factors.
- Online courses must be developed by content experts in conjunction with those who understand how best to use technology to enhance student learning.
- Online courses used to fulfill admission requirements to the University of California must be aligned with the A-G course criteria provided by the University.
- Online courses must provide opportunities for substantial interactions between students and the teacher, and between students and other students.
- Student progress and learning are to be assessed frequently through a variety of tools, and feedback to the student must be prompt.
- Institutions must provide qualified teachers who are content experts and are capable of supporting their students’ learning throughout the online course. These teachers must receive adequate professional development to effectively support students in their online learning, and be assigned a number of students that allows for the interaction necessary to achieve positive learning outcomes.
- Institutions must ensure that the technology infrastructure is adequate for effective learning and that students enrolled in an online course have access to both the necessary hardware and software to be successful.
- Institutions must provide students enrolled in online courses with appropriate advice to ensure they have the necessary background and technology to succeed.
- Institutions must ensure that students have local access to qualified professionals (teachers, mentors, counselors, etc.) or paraprofessionals who can support their online course participation.
- Institutions must have a process in place to ensure that the person submitting material for assessment is actually the student enrolled in the online course.
In addition, the University recommends that online/hybrid institutions offering online courses implement practices and policies found in the National Standards for Quality Online Programs.