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Office of Digital Learning

Commonwealth of Massachusetts Virtual Schools

Frequently Asked Questions

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FAQ for Parents and Students

Q1.
What is a Commonwealth of Massachusetts Virtual School (CMVS)? Is it a public school?
A1.
A Commonwealth of Massachusetts Virtual School (CMVS) is a public school operated by a board of trustees where teachers primarily teach from a remote location using the Internet or other computer-based methods and students are not required to be located at the physical premises of the school. Each CMVS determines what grade levels it will serve and what particular programs it will offer. Below is a list of Massachusetts virtual schools:
 
 
 
Q2.
Who can attend a CMVS?
A2.
Any student in the state can apply for admission to a CMVS. If more students apply to a CMVS than there is space available, the school will hold a lottery to determine which students will be admitted. Once a student is admitted to a CMVS, he or she is entitled to attend in subsequent years without reapplying. For information about a particular CMVS, or to apply for admission, contact the school directly.
 
 
Q3.
How can I determine if a CMVS is right for my child?
A3.
The resources below will help you determine whether your child is prepared to thrive in an online program. (Disclaimer: Reference in this list to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education)
 
 
 
Q4.
Does Massachusetts provide accreditation for private virtual schools?
A4.
No, Massachusetts does not currently have a process for accrediting private virtual schools.
 
 
Q5.
What do I need to do if I want to enroll my child in a virtual private school?
A5.
If the private virtual school is based in a town in Massachusetts, the law requires that the committee of that town approve the school.

If you wish to enroll your child in a private virtual school that is not based in Massachusetts, state law would treat your child as a homeschooled student. In that case, you would need to have your educational plan reviewed and approved by the school district in which you reside. You can find contact information for all of the school districts in the Commonwealth using the Department's School/District Profiles Tool.

 
 
Q6.
Can my child play high school sports for his/her hometown team?
A6.
Most high school sports programs in the state belong to the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA). For a virtual school student to play for his or her hometown high school team, they must follow a waiver process established by the MIAA: (1) The student should first speak to the principal of the public high school in the community s/he resides to seek agreement from the principal to participate. (2) If the principal is in agreement with the student participating, the principal must request a waiver of MIAA Rule 52 (MIAA White Book of forms, page 14). (3) A letter of agreement must be signed by both the student's virtual school principal and high school principal in the town of residence (MIAA White Book of forms, page 15) and included with the waiver request.
 
 
Q7.
Will my child be eligible to play sports at a Division I or Division II college or university upon graduation?
A7.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), a private organization, requires all prospective student-athletes to complete appropriate course work in order to qualify for NCAA programs. Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the virtual school prior to enrolling their child to determine whether the school's high school courses meet NCAA core-course criteria. For more information, visit the NCAA Eligibility Center.
 
 

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FAQ for Districts

Q1.
How will I be notified when a student from my district decides to attend a Commonwealth of Massachusetts Virtual School (CMVS)?
A1.
CMVSs are required to notify each sending district in writing of the number and grade levels of students who shall be attending the CMVS from the sending districts within 10 days of the student registering for enrollment in the CMVS. Additionally, the Department provides sending districts with preliminary reports in January showing the name, grade, program, and estimated annual tuition for each pupil reported in the previous CMVS October data collection.
 
 
Q2.
What do I do if a student is reported as enrolled in a CMVS but is also attending a school in the sending district?
A2.
Students may not enroll as a full-time CMVS student while attending another public school. A student may only count in the foundation enrollment of a single district or CMVS. Districts and CMVSs are encouraged to work together to resolve any enrollment discrepancies. Discrepancies that cannot be resolved may be reported to the Department.
 
 
 
Q3.
What school choice tuition amount will my district be charged for each student who attends a CMVS?
A3.
The default tuition rate is the school choice rate, but the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education may approve a different rate for each individual CMVS. Tuition is based on full year enrollment and will be prorated if a student is enrolled in the CMVS for only a portion of the school year. See the table below for the approved tuition rate for each CMVS:
 
CMVSDistrict CodeApproved Tuition Amount*
Massachusetts Virtual Academy at Greenfield Commonwealth Virtual District39010000$6,700 per student
TEC Connections Academy Commonwealth Virtual School District39020000$6,700 per student
 
 
 
Q4.
How does the Department calculate and disburse CMVS tuition payments?
A4.
Please refer to the document below for how tuition payments are calculated and disbursed for a fictitious CMVS over the course of a state fiscal year, which runs from July 1 to the following June 30.

Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document
CMVS Tuition calculation and disbursement
 
 
Q5.
Can a school district restrict student enrollment in CMVSs?
A5.
The school committee of a sending district may, by vote, restrict enrollment of its students in CMVSs if the total enrollment of its students in CMVSs exceeds 1 per cent of the total enrollment in its district; provided, however, that no student enrolled in a CMVS shall be compelled to withdraw as a result of that vote. Only full-time CMVS students count towards the 1 per cent threshold.
 
The Department will maintain a table of districts eligible to vote to restrict future enrollment. The list will be updated annually by February 1 based on the October 1 SIMS data. School committees must communicate a vote to restrict enrollment for the following school year to the Department no later than April 30 by sending a letter and email to the Office of Digital Learning.
 
Summary table of districts eligible to vote to restrict future enrollment and districts with restrictions in place for school year 2013-2014:
DistrictDistrict CodePercent Enrolled in CMVSsRestricted Enrollment
(None)---
 
 
Q6.
When a student enrolls in a CMVS, who is responsible for providing special education services?
A6.
A virtual public school district is considered a school district in all respects and is responsible to provide special education services needed by any enrolled student just as any other public school district would do. Certainly, how those services are delivered may be different than how they would be delivered in a more standard public school district, but a virtual district cannot simply require a "sending school district" to provide services as the district is not actually "sending" the student, rather, the student has enrolled in the virtual district. The virtual district acts similarly to the "choice" district in that it can bill the district of residence for the costs of the special education services via the School Choice Special Education Increment Template and, to calculate the costs, the Special Education Circuit Breaker Certification Statement. The virtual district can develop the special education services needed to serve its students, can contract with others to provide them, or, can work collaboratively with a district or group of districts such as in a collaborative to provide services.
 
 
Q7.
What is a district's responsibility when a student attends a private virtual school?
A7.
If the private virtual school is based in a city or town in Massachusetts, the law requires the school committee of that city or town to approve the school, as it would any other private school. For more information, see Advisory on Approval of Massachusetts Private Schools Pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws c. 76, §1. The private virtual school is required to report any students from your district who are enrolled in the school.
 
If the private virtual school is not based in Massachusetts, the law requires the district to treat the student as a homeschooled student. In that case, the district would need to review and approve the student's educational plan. For more information, see question 19 of Frequently Asked Questions - Program Quality Assurance Services.
 
 
Q8.
What standards should a district use when approving a private virtual school based in its town?
A8.
The district should refer to the Advisory on Approval of Massachusetts Private Schools Pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws c. 76, §1. In addition, the district can refer to the resources on the Office of Digital Learning's Blended and Virtual Learning web page.
 
 

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FAQ for Private School Providers

Q1.
What are the requirements for opening a new private virtual school in Massachusetts?
A1.
If the school will be based in a town in Massachusetts, it must seek and receive approval from the school committee of that town, regardless of whether any students from that town will attend the school. If Massachusetts students enroll in the school, the school must report their names, ages, and residences to the superintendents of the town where those children reside within thirty days after their enrollment or registration. Whenever a student withdraws from a private virtual school, the school must notify the superintendent within ten days. The private virtual school must also submit The Individual Private School Report (enrollment as of October 1st) to the Department, with a copy to superintendent where the student resides, or use the Department's online tool. For more information, see Advisory on Approval of Massachusetts Private Schools Pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws c. 76, §1. To find contact information for all of the school districts in Massachusetts, use the Department's School/District Profiles Tool.
 
 
Q2.
What are the requirements for enrolling Massachusetts students in a private virtual school when the school is not based in Massachusetts?
A2.
If the private virtual school is not based in Massachusetts, the law would treat the student as homeschooled. The student's parent or guardian would need to ask the local school to review and approve the student's educational program.
 
 


Last Updated: May 24, 2016
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