Online education, like so many other facets of the Internet, is an evolving resource that promises to extend better classes and teachers to a much broader range of students.
Educators continue to look for ways to make such learning more effective. As part of that process, it’s important to measure progress and monitor online education efforts in order to learn from the experiences.
State Auditor Beth Wood has found a number of issues with the accountability practices in place at the N.C. Virtual Public School. In an audit released last week, Wood’s department found lax standards related to the enrollment and reporting on students taking classes through the Virtual Public School program.
Wood made no allegations of criminal activity, but she noted that the school’s bookkeeping practices are so loose that if an employee had tried to inflate enrollment figures in order to make more money, the chances of success would have weighed in the employee’s favor.
N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson took the audit to heart and said her department already is addressing problems raised by the report.
The N.C. General Assembly should take note, as well.
With good reason, legislators have considered expanding online education in public schools. It’s a good idea, in theory, especially if there are ways to extend the lessons of some of North Carolina’s best and brightest educators to rural parts of the state that might not otherwise be able to have access to such expertise.
As Atkinson looks for ways to tighten standards in the N.C. Virtual Public School, lawmakers should keep Wood’s audit in mind.
Making education more available with greater efficiency is a laudable goal. But let’s make sure expansion occurs with accountability, as well.