Audit: State’s supervision of online learning “not sufficient”

A newly released audit finds the state's oversight of online learning programs needs work as many school districts are set to go online-only.

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) needs to improve what it’s doing to ensure every student gets a quality education from online classes. That’s the finding of a newly released report from the state’s Office of the Inspector General.

The report comes just as many districts, including Kalamazoo Public Schools, plan to go online only for the beginning of the 2020-21 school year.

To be fair to MDE, the report is a review of programs from the 2015-16 school year – well before the COVID-19 pandemic that forced schools across Michigan to go entirely online. Nonetheless, the report said MDE needs to do more oversight of online programs to ensure all students are present and receiving a quality education.

In an article in Bridge Magazine, Craig Thiel, research director at the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, said MDE’s shortcomings make it hard to tell whether virtual learning is working or not.

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“We don’t know the effectiveness of it because we don’t have an evaluation system,” he said.

MDE disagrees with some of the report’s findings.

“Just because the audit says we don’t have a system to evaluate [virtual programs] doesn’t mean [they’re] not high quality,” said MDE spokesperson Martin Ackley.

The report is the second of a three part review of the state’s virtual learning program.

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You can read the full audit report here.

You can read the full Bridge Magazine story here.

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