DPI to Review Virtual Schools
The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) plans an in-depth review of Wisconsin’s virtual schools following an audit and an examination of virtual students’ proficiency shortcomings by the Gannett Wisconsin Media Investigative Team.
The investigative report concluded, “Virtual students struggle to finish high school in four years, repeat grades five times as frequently and last year trailed their counterparts in every subject but reading on the annual Wisconsin Student Assessment System test.” A February 2010 Legislative Audit Bureau report suggested DPI annually compare virtual and traditional students, an analysis that until now was never done, according to the investigative report. The DPI hopes to have the analysis completed by spring 2013.
According to the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune account, “The Gannett Wisconsin Media investigation also found DPI does not track student attendance or participation at virtual schools. Wisconsin’s online students are exempt from daily attendance laws, but neither statute nor the DPI established a standard in its place. Participation can be a key problem for virtual students, who are far less likely to take the ACT or participate in standardized tests like the WSAS, according to DPI data.”
The DPI study was prompted by the “increasing number of districts creating virtual charter schools and the ever-growing number of questions we are receiving regarding their operation,” according to DPI spokesman Patrick Gasper. “Our staff will be contacting a range of individuals involved with virtual charter schools that may include district administrators, virtual charter school principals, teachers, parents, charter school board members, and others as necessary,” Gasper said.
Wisconsin Rapids Tribune story
DPI Website Virtual Schools page