Distributed Learning – General

Date came into force or revised

Revised September 16, 2016. Revised May 2017.



Policy statement

A British Columbia board of education may provide all or part of an educational program by means of distributed learning. A board may operate a distributed learning school only if it has signed an agreement with the Minister.

Rationale or purpose of policy

Distributed learning provides the flexibility to meet learning needs of many B.C. students not served through conventional school programs. Schools in rural and urban communities may have difficulty offering a full range of courses and program options to all students, and distributed learning can expand equitable access to education, specifically providing choice for those students who have restricted options.


Policy in full

Boards of education that operate a distributed learning school or program must enter into an agreement with the Minister of Education and be able to demonstrate that any school or program covered in the agreement meets all of  the following: 

  • All of the requirements of the School Act and legislation
  • All of the requirements of the Distributed Learning Agreement between the board of education and the Ministry of Education
  • All Ministry of Education policies and standards

Each board of education that has entered into a Distributed Learning Agreement (PDF) with the Minister

  • Ensures that students may exercise their rights under legislation to choose distributed learning instruction within a coordinated province-wide distributed learning system
  • Commits to meet or exceed the British Columbia Distributed Learning Standards
  • Agrees to participate in the Quality Assurance Review process and aligns its website to meet Ministry requirements 
  • Ensures it has supports in place to comply with the Ministry policy and standards, including resource investment
  • Provides training and professional development for teachers, and employs only teachers who have experience and/or training in distributed learning methodology
  • Meets policy requirements related to funds for designated resources to parents and learners
  • Ensures that all learners in the board’s catchment area who are receiving distributed learning instruction from anywhere in the province are receiving appropriate support 
  • Provides records and reports on student achievement as specified by the Ministry
  • Works to achieve a 100 percent participation rate in Foundation Skills Assessments and Satisfaction Surveys
  • Provides current and accurate distributed learning contact information to the Ministry
  • Provides accurate information regarding its Distributed Learning website, courses offered, and contact information to the Ministry by July 31 of each year, updating the information as required.

Procedures related to policy

Distributed Learning School/Board of Education websites will:

  1. Provide Learners a direct link to the School’s contact information
  2. Provide information about the type of program and services offered to Learners
  3. Provide information about the courses available
  4. Provide information about how to enroll in a course or school
  5. Align with the directives outlined in the Distributed Learning General Policy about the use of Third Party Services
  6. Align with the Distributed Learning B.C. Residency Policy
  7. Contain a clear statement about being an educator-led program that provides quality services to Learners
  8. Learners must be able to link directly from the Ministry’s Course Finder to the School’s website, preferably where and how to register for the program and/or course(s) of interest.  

Contact information

By July 31 of each year, the board must complete the Distributed Learning Contact Information Form and submit it to the Ministry. This document includes instructions, contact roles, and the information form.

Quality Assurance Review

The Quality Assurance Review consists of the following:

  1. Internal review
    1. DL staff
    2. Done annually as part of regular school planning
    3. In advance of external review
  2. External Review
    1. Ministry staff, retired and active DL educators
    2. Site Visit
  3. Post site review meeting
    1. External team
    2. District/school staff
  4. Publication of external review formal report
  5. Meeting with school/district staff re improvement goals that may become amended to the DL Agreement

Reimbursements to third party service providers

If the board of education uses a third party to provide educational services or learning support, materials, or resources to learners, the board must do the following:

  • Ensure that the educational services, materials, and resources are part of the educational program supervised by a board employee who is certified by the Teacher Regulation Branch
  • Pay only the third party directly and not the parent, learner or any other person
  • Ensure that parents and third party service providers clearly understand their roles and responsibilities for student safety and security
  • Clearly describe its responsibility to provide the program outlined in a student’s learning plan or Individual Education Plan separately from additional services the student may receive from the service provider

If the board of education uses a third party to provide educational services or learning support, materials, or resources to learners, the board must do the following:

  • Pay up to a maximum of $600 per FTE in grades K-12 for reimbursements to third party resources and service providers.
  • NOTE: the amount of the operating grant to be used for third party resourcing would not apply to:
    • Supporting students with special needs in levels 1, 2 and 3;  and categories K,P,Q,R, in achieving the goals in their Individual Education Plans
    • Career technical centre program courses
    • Post secondary transition program courses
    • A portion of the family's Internet connection costs if required to participate in a DL program or course. Connection means cost of the household connection to the internet. It does not include ongoing maintenance.

Limits to financial assistance for learners or their parents 

The board of education must not provide financial payments or reimbursements to learners or their parents, nor may they use any amount of money budgeted to support an educational program as an incentive to have a learner enrol in a distributed learning program or course.

The board of education may provide financial assistance to learners or their parents for a portion of the family’s Internet connection fees, if and only if the learner requires an Internet connection to participate in an educational program delivered in whole or in part through distributed learning.

The board may lend, but not give, equipment with an asset value (such as a computer that is required for participation in a distributed learning  program or course) to learners or to parents or families of learners.

Access to Grade 10-12 distributed learning courses

Schools must not in any way act to prevent students from enrolling in distributed learning courses through means,  such as the following:

  • Requiring a minimal number of courses within the student’s schedule (see Form 1701 Instructions for exceptions)
  • Providing inaccurate information relating to credentials, provincial examinations transcript eligibility, or other processes
  • Refusing to cooperate with other schools offering distributed learning instruction