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Distance education audit welcomed

Most businesses fear audits, but not Fraser Valley Distance Education.

The Chilliwack school requested its audit.

Next week, from Feb 24-26, a "quality review" team consisting of a representative from the Ministry of Education, as well as a current and retired distance learning (DL) administrator will be strolling through the FVDES halls, taking notes on the school's practices, as well as interviewing school district officials, staff, parents and students.

Principal Dave Manuel can't wait.

"I've been asking for this for two years," said Manuel, who helped audit a DL school on Vancouver Island last year.

Manuel doesn't fear criticisms that may come. He's confident in his school's record to score a top grade by the auditors. He's also interested in seeing what his school can do to become an even better online school.

DL schools don't have the networking circles that brick and mortar schools have, said Manuel.

"If I was a principal at [Chilliwack secondary], my job would be similar to the principal at Sardis and G.W.; we'd have meetings and bounce ideas off each other," he said. "But in DL, we don't have that. We've got DLs all over the province, but they're all very different and we don't get that chance to look and see how we're doing."

Audits provide that check-and-balance.

The school will be scored in areas of learner success, teaching practices, and leadership.

In preparation, FVDES conducted an internal review earlier this year, developed an action plan for future successes, and provided an online satisfaction survey for parents and students to fill out.

And because the quality review is not conducted by academia, but rather people in the field, it makes the recommendations that much more valuable, said Manuel.

"I think it's a really healthy process," he said. "It's not so much an evaluation as it is almost like a consult."

All in the name of bettering DL learning.

kbartel@theprogress.com

twitter.com/schoolscribe33

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