School & District Management

Audit Program Seeks Out Traits Found in Successful Schools

By Alan Richard — April 07, 2004 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Kentucky’s scholastic audits have grown increasingly popular in the Bluegrass State. Now, other states are borrowing the approach as they look for ways to ratchet up interventions to help schools improve and thus meet accountability goals under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The lowest one-third of public schools in Kentucky, as rated every two years using test scores, must submit to either a “scholastic audit” or a “review” under a state law passed in 1999.

Schools rated in the lowest category among that one-third of schools face mandatory scholastic audits.

Other schools rated slightly higher, but still among the lowest third, face mandatory reviews, which are similar to audits, except that the outside teams visiting those schools consist of educators only. Audit teams at the lowest-rated schools must include parents, along with educators.

In a scholastic audit, trained teams of six members spend about four days in a school, interviewing every campus employee at least once, along with parents, students, and administrators.

Having parents on the teams makes the audits stronger, said Mary Ann Cardin, a parent who has served on several audit teams and is the chairwoman of the school board in the 2,000-student Spencer County system, south of Louisville, Ky.

“Just working with these people on our team was a wealth of information, and I sometimes had a perspective they didn’t have,” she said.

During audits, Ms. Cardin added, “teachers would always say parents aren’t involved. We would say, ‘What are you doing to encourage it?’ ”

The teams use nine guiding standards and 88 specific indicators of performance as the audit criteria. Those nine standards include factors that Kentucky policymakers consider crucial when judging school quality, including leadership, school culture, and instructional practices.

Under each of the nine standards, audit teams address the 88 indicators of school performance. For example, a team may look for student work to be posted throughout hallways and classrooms as an example of building a warm school culture.

Schools See Value

Before they leave, the audit teams present their findings in school meetings with staff members. The final presentation is professional but frank, team members say.

Veteran audit-team members add that they commonly find schools without formal curricula, school leadership that isn’t focused on student achievement or creativity in running a school, and programs for parents that aren’t well-developed.

Colorado, Louisiana, and New Jersey are among the states shaping their own school intervention practices, in part, based on Kentucky’s scholastic audits, said Pat Hurt, who helps oversee the audits as the Kentucky Department of Education’s director of school improvement.

Higher-scoring schools in Kentucky see the value of the audits, she said. About one-third of the reviews in the past two years have been voluntary, she said. “This work has really taken on a life of its own.”

Related Tags:

Events

Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Pandemic-Seasoned Principals Share Hard-Earned Leadership Lessons
The COVID crisis has tested principals’ resolve to an unprecedented degree, but many have gleaned valuable takeaways from the experience.
6 min read
Boat on the water with three people inside. Leader pointing  forward. In the water around them are coronavirus pathogens.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
School & District Management This Intensive Internship Helps Principals Get Ready For the Job
A two-year program in Columbus City Schools gives aspiring principals the chance to dive deep into the job before actually taking the reins.
10 min read
Sarah Foster, principal of North Linden Elementary School, talks with Katina Perry in Columbus, Ohio on November 30, 2021. Columbus City Schools has a program that lets principal “test out” the principal role, before actually fully taking it on. Through the program, they work in a school for two years under a mentor principal and fill in as principal at different schools during that time.
Katina Perry, right, principal of Fairmoor Elementary School in Columbus, Ohio, meets with Sarah Foster, principal of North Linden Elementary School and Perry's mentor in a school leader internship program.
Maddie McGarvey for Education Week
School & District Management Q&A School Libraries and Controversial Books: Tips From the Front Lines
A top school librarian explains how districts can prepare for possible challenges to student reading materials and build trust with parents.
6 min read
Image of library shelves of books.
mikdam/iStock/Getty
School & District Management Opinion ‘This Is Not What We Signed Up For’: A Principal’s Plea for More Support
School leaders are playing the role of health-care experts, social workers, mask enforcers, and more. It’s taking a serious toll.
Kristen St. Germain
3 min read
Illustration of a professional woman walking a tightrope.
Laura Baker/Education Week and uzenzen/iStock/Getty