Audit exposes strengths, weaknesses in CDA schools

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    Morrisroe

  • Cook

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    Morrisroe

The Coeur d’Alene School District received its own report card and disclosed results for public consumption Tuesday.

It wasn’t exactly straight As.

At district officials’ request, Curriculum Management Solutions of Johnston, Iowa, evaluated the district based on five standards and noted exceptions to them. The audit, which cost $50,000, was based on four days of site visits by auditors in early February, the findings of one off-site auditor, a review of more than 100 types of documents in addition to nearly 2,000 examples of student work, 284 classroom visits, 208 interviews and almost 2,500 online surveys of teachers, campus leaders and parents. Curriculum Management issued a nearly 400-page report and executive summary detailing 17 findings and nine recommendations.

Superintendent Steve Cook said in a statement to the district Tuesday that “the purpose of the audit is to identify gaps in the effective and efficient design, delivery and monitoring of the district’s curriculum.

“It also reveals how the focus of the entire system should always be to support the work of teaching and learning,” he said. “The audit provides us recommendations for the board and district to consider in addressing these gaps. While some of the report can be uncomfortable to read, and the scope of recommended changes may seem daunting, there is cause for optimism as we prepare to confront the challenges presented in this report.”

Casey Morrisroe, school board chair, said district officials expected shortcomings to be exposed and was willing to pay the hefty audit price if that would help the district improve.

“We wanted to know what a thorough review of our curriculum, instruction and student assessments would tell us,” he said. “This curriculum audit gives us that information, with a clear set of data-driven recommendations for how we can improve over the next several years. We have a lot to celebrate. We also know there’s much more we can do to attain excellence in this school district.”

Among the report’s findings:

• Auditors concluded that delineation and communication of employees’ roles, relationships and responsibilities are not clear enough to support quality management.

• Recent planning does not produce a workable approach to curriculum and program design that closes gaps in student achievement and assures a quality education for all students.

• Auditors found a lack of minimal basics needed to promote a highly focused, consistent educational program.

• When looking at the scope of curriculum available to teachers in the system, auditors found the scope of the written curriculum in elementary schools for core and non-core and high school non-core were adequate. Middle school core and non-core and high school core were inadequate to direct instruction in the classroom.

• Professional development, though plentiful, was not guided by clear vision and purpose, and current planning for professional development does not meet audit standards for coordinating initiatives across the district departments and school sites.

• In classrooms, auditors found instructional practices to be primarily large groups, teacher-centered, at low cognitive levels with few effective instructional strategies in use. Strategies vary from classroom to classroom and are not consistent with research-based practices that support teaching and learning for all.

The student work submitted had low cognitive demands and was most frequently of the least engaging type in all content areas and grade levels except high school English. Almost half the elementary science and social studies school work either partially met or did not meet the expectations.

•••

COMING THURSDAY: A look at the audit’s recommendations for improvement.

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