DESE Did Not Always Perform Its Scheduled SVs for AE Providers.

The audit notes, student outcomes may be negatively affected if providers do not receive timely program assistance, including feedback on educational leadership, course content, and curriculum instruction techniques.

Table of Contents

Overview

Not all AE providers received SVs from DESE’s PQR team during the audit period. We reviewed a sample of 20 out of 54 AE providers that were scheduled to receive SVs during fiscal year 2019 and found that 4 (20%) had not received the required SVs. Student outcomes may be negatively affected if providers do not receive timely program assistance, including feedback on educational leadership, course content, and curriculum instruction techniques.

Authoritative Guidance

DESE’s “Program Quality Review and Site Visit Protocol” states,

Site visits are conducted by one or two ACLS staff, including program specialists, once each fiscal year (unless the program receives a program quality review), for approximately four hours.

Reasons for Issue

As stated in the “Overview” section of this report, DESE instituted a new process this year to perform provider monitoring visits at AE provider sites. DESE told us it did not perform all required SVs partly because of a learning curve during the first year of implementation and partly because of unexpected staffing issues.

Recommendation

DESE should perform SVs for all AE providers.

Auditee’s Response

In FY19, ACLS changed its site visit protocol, adding ambitious new criteria, including an annual site visit of every sub recipient program that was not scheduled to receive a program quality review for that year. All changes were approved by management and control activities were put in place.

The unanticipated loss in personnel necessitated modifications to the site visit schedule, with the result that four programs did not receive a site visit in FY19. Nonetheless, all programs, including these four, receive timely assistance from their program specialists in ways other than site visits. Such assistance includes feedback on data collected from desk reviews and technical assistance on budget amendments, among other types of assistance.

Auditor’s Reply

We do not dispute that the four programs in question may have received assistance as needed from their program specialists. However, in OSA’s opinion, such assistance cannot be viewed as a substitute for the required SVs. During SVs, ACLS program specialists conduct thorough program reviews that use formal agendas based on individual program needs and include such things as classroom observations and instructor and advisor interviews. SVs are important because they allow the ACLS Unit to identify specific program needs as well as areas of program noncompliance that should be addressed in a timely and efficient manner. OSA also acknowledges that staffing issues may arise; however, given the importance of SVs, OSA believes that the ACLS Unit should take the measures necessary to ensure that its staff members can perform SVs in accordance with agency policy.

Date published: June 2, 2020
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