Curriculum audit next for schools

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Call it the year of the audit.

Following in the footsteps of a communications audit and the annual financial audit, the Steamboat Springs School District is moving ahead with a proposal to hire an Indiana organization for a curriculum audit of the district.

The district is preparing to hire Phi Delta Kappa International to conduct the audit, which is estimated to cost $22,000. The School Board approved the hiring last week, but it hopes the Education Fund Board will provide at least a portion of the money needed for the analysis.

The audit will analyze the district's content standards, curriculum and technology, as well as the interconnectivity of those systems, Superintendent Donna Howell said.

"It's not an evaluation of people, it's an evaluation of systems," Howell said. "It will be very beneficial to the district as well as the Education Fund Board."

Members of the Fund Board have discussed hiring a firm that could analyze the effectiveness of some of the district programs it has paid for over the years. Howell said the curriculum audit would satisfy the Fund Board's desire for that evaluation.

According to a letter sent to Howell from Judy Tackitt, coordinator of Phi Delta Kappa's International Curriculum Management Audit Center, an audit team would come to Steamboat and evaluate the district's programs and policies, diagnose strengths and weaknesses and recommend concrete courses of action to improve and advance the quality of the district.

The audit also will cover the district's technology plan and how it relates to curriculum, an assessment of instructional practices, organizational structure, budget and the district's approach to data and trend analysis.

Howell said the curriculum audit will answer questions such as: Does the district have all the systems it needs in place? Is the district's assessment program as effective as it could be? Is the district's curriculum development as effective as it could be? Does the district focus its professional staff development in areas that will take it to the next level?

"We're doing very well (as a district)," Howell said, "but that doesn't mean we can't move forward to the next level of excellence. It's always beneficial to have an outside group come in and assess how we're doing."

The School Board unanimously approved the hiring of Phi Delta Kappa at last week's meeting.

In addressing concerns raised by board members, Howell said the audit won't take teachers out of the classroom during the school day. The district hopes the audit will be completed this spring so that a report can be received in the summer.

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