Officials complain about US northern border policy

Jon Hazard Photo by CSPD

Falcon School District 49 has made strides in tackling flaws in its curriculum plan, according to administrators and a professional auditor.The district in October 2008 voluntarily underwent a vigorous assessment, and it met five of 27 performance indicators of a well-run school district established by a national curriculum audit firm.“They’ve done a great deal of work since then,” said Jan Jacob, Phi Delta Kappa auditor. The Gazette published findings from a draft copy of the audit in March. But the school board did not officially unveil the results until last week’s school board meeting. The district has outlined on its web site, D49.org, how it is addressing curriculum management problems. The audit is not posted.The 189-page audit found that the district had not adequately developed the necessary operation plans for guiding and improving classroom teaching and learning, and that the current curriculum policy plan was out of date. Updating policy is the primary board responsibility, according to Colorado Association of School Boards.School board member Mark Shook said in an e-mail that he found policies that had not been changed since 1991. He and Eric Paugh, former chief academic office, rewrote some policies before the audit.For school policies to be considered adequate, 70 percent or more of certain audit criteria needed to be met. The district at the time met 18 percent, the audit said.Addressing problems to create a first-rate curriculum plan can take a school district five years or more, auditors have said. District officials did not say how long it might take them.The audit provides an “unvarnished picture” of what the district needs to work on to increase teaching and learning efficiencies, Paugh writes on the D-49 web site. The district has been working on foundational policies that govern curriculum and student achievement, and has created plans to ensure equal access for all student programs. He faulted lapses in district record keeping for some audit criticism.The Phi Delta Kappa audit was conducted under auspices of International Curriculum Management Systems Inc., which assesses curriculum health. While hundreds  of school districts worldwide have undergone the rigorous audit, few in Colorado have done so. The audits are typically hypercritical so that districts can have a detailed blueprint on how to further student achievement. The auditors said it is courageous for a district to undergo such an audit. Grant Schmidt, former D-49 superintendent, who was ousted earlier this year by the school board, arranged the  $47,000 audit after starting his job in the spring of 2008.

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