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High school student Laura Johnson left briefly for an online program. I-News photo

Education News Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Investigative News Network spent 10 months investigating achievement, turnover and oversight at the state’s largest full-time online programs.

The investigation, which came five years after a state audit of online programs blasted the Colorado Department of Education for lax oversight, found little has changed – despite a new law aimed at cracking down on the programs.

Students in the state’s online programs continue to perform far worse than their counterparts on state tests, and their scores actually declined after a year in the online programs. Mobility rates top 50 percent in full-time online schools, meaning many students leave their state funding behind in the virtual programs while they return to brick-and-mortar schools.

The series, which won a Society of Professional Journalists’ first-place award for multimedia presentation:

Part 1: High mobility and funding

Analysis shows half of students leave online programs within a year but funding stays, with video

A closer look at the data behind the series

Part 2: Lagging student achievement

Achievement of online students drops over time, lags state averages on every indicator

Part 3: Lax oversight

Analysis finds lax oversight of online schools, despite scathing audit and efforts by lawmakers