Wake Education Partnership presents "Wake FYI"


FOR YOUR INFORMATION: Curriculum Management Audit of WCPSS

In this issue of Wake FYI, information from numerous WCPSS websites has been collected in an effort to efficiently and effectively inform readers about Phi Delta Kappa’s Curriculum Management Audit of the Wake County Public School System.

WCPSS Superintendent Dr. Del Burns has given the following rationale for seeking the audit:  "I called for this independent audit to have our system measured against world-class standards for education. We do not want to coast on our past success," said Dr. Burns. "This was not an exercise to pat ourselves on the back. We wanted to see where we had gaps in our processes and alignment so we can move this school system and our children to the next level academically. We wanted and we received the hard look we asked for and will work with the Board of Education in processing and aligning these recommendations into our system."


FAQ on Curriculum Management Audit

  • What is a curriculum management audit? A curriculum management audit is a comprehensive examination of how a school district develops, teaches, and evaluates its academic program. In other words, it is a top to bottom, exhaustive evaluation of a school district's core business: teaching and learning. Documents, interviews, and site visits are used to provide trained auditors with a thorough look at the school district against five standards in a rigorous review based on a generally accepted auditing model developed by the accounting firm Peat Marwick & Mitchell.
  • Why did the superintendent call for a curriculum management audit? The Wake County Public School System is strong and competitive when compared to its peers across the nation. Recent developments highlighted the need for a deeper study of the school system's opportunities for improvement. Superintendent Del Burns cited these examples in calling for the curriculum management audit on January 23, 2007:
    • The State Board of Education has adopted more stringent goals designed to
           prepare students for life in this century, not the 20th
    • "Re-normed" End-of-Grade math assessments highlighted the need for
            improvement  for all North Carolina districts, including WCPSS
    • Global competition, the knowledge economy, and the rate of technological
           change mean that WCPSS must be in the business of "preparing children for a
           future we cannot imagine."
  • How much did it cost? The Wake County Board of Education contracted with Phi Delta Kappa International to conduct the audit for $215,000.
  • Who conducted the audit? A team of auditors from Phi Delta Kappa International performed the audit. The organization was founded in 1906, and is headquartered in Bloomington, Indiana. It serves more than 500,000 members in the United States and abroad. The association publishes the Phi Delta Kappan, the most cited education journal in the United States, and sponsors the annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools.

    Phi Delta Kappa's Curriculum Management Center offers districts the Curriculum Management Audit, the most comprehensive examination of a school district's curriculum management system available. Governed by the same principles and standards as a financial audit, the curriculum audit determines how effectively the school district designs and delivers its curriculum. The Curriculum Management Audit is based on effective schools research and was developed by Fenwick English, founder of the International Curriculum Management Center.

    Dr. Rosanne Stripling, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and Education at Texas A&M University-Texarkana led the team of auditors. Information on Dr. Stripling and each member of the audit team is included in the audit report. 

  • What areas did the audit examine? WCPSS was compared against five performance standards:
    • Governance and control (policy);
    • Direction and learner expectation;
    • Connectivity and consistency (alignment of programs);
    • Assessment and feedback (use of data to drive decisions);
    • Productivity and efficiency.

What We’ve Learned:  Curriculum Audit Recommendation

  • Recommendation 1: OPPORTUNITY – Meet students' needs equitably, and eliminate the achievement gap

Implement district plans and goals to provide equal access to comparable programs, services and opportunities to impact student success. Eliminate the achievement gap between ethnic and socioeconomic student groups. Take further steps to allocate resources on the basis of need.

  • Recommendation 2: CONSISTENCY – Unite strategic planning -- from the school board to the administration to the school to the classroom

Refocus the planning process to attain improved internal system connectivity in order to realize the strategic direction for the school district.

  • Recommendation 3: GOVERNANCE – Strengthen school board and administrative direction of curriculum management

Develop, revise and adopt board policies and administrative regulations to communicate governance expectations, provide adequate direction to employees, and establish a framework for accountability regarding curriculum management and related functions of the district.

  • Recommendation 4: MANAGEMENT – Actively direct and support the curriculum

Develop and document a comprehensive curriculum management process. Revise curriculum resources/documents to meet audit criteria and provide improved quality control. Develop single-source primary curriculum guides, and streamline online documents to guide instruction and assessment. Continue use of revised online resources, facilitate access by all staff, and continue the training of administrators and teachers in effective and efficient use of these resources.

  • Recommendation 5: EVALUATION – Increase the use of data in decision making

Formalize comprehensive assessment procedures to provide data for decision making at all levels of the system. Establish a formalized process for selection, implementation and evaluation of programs utilizing data that will be used as feedback for revision or continuation of programs and practices.

  • Recommendation 6: BUDGETING – Tie school system resources to the needs of the curriculum

Develop and implement a multi-year plan that fully aligns district and building level resources to curricular goals and strategic priorities and that includes systematic cost-benefit analyses to assure that expenditures are producing desired results.

  • Recommendation 7: INSTRUCTION – Unify and enhance training and development

Establish a plan for centralized professional development that provides for coordinated training in the essential competencies necessary for effective delivery of the written curriculum, including institutionalization of expectations for instructional best practices and monitoring. Revise the teacher appraisal program to focus on implementation of district expectations and to provide teachers with constructive feedback to improve classroom performance.

  • Recommendation 8: ORGANIZATION – Clarify roles and responsibilities and increase effectiveness

Adopt policies governing the management of job descriptions and the table of organization. Prepare and adopt a set of quality job descriptions and a table of organization consistent with sound management principles. Reconfigure the staff to provide greater flexibility in accommodating growth and to improve support and supervision for principals, staff and area superintendents.


Next Steps…

  • Teaching and Learning 
    • The audit includes recommendations that we can use to make our school system better: more aligned, more focused, more efficient, and more effective in serving our students.
    • The process has taught us that we have many strong resources for teachers, but our efforts could be better aligned and communicated.
    • The audit reinforced WCPSS's emphasis on ensuring that all schools at every grade level are working toward our school system's vision: that every child will graduate on time, prepared for the future.
  • Plan to Address Recommendations 
    • Staff will present a framework for responding to the curriculum management audit at the next meeting of the Wake County Board of Education on September 18.


For More Information on WCPSS Curriculum Management Audit


  • Read more about the WCPSS Curriculum Management Audit at:

WCPSS Curriculum Management Audit Resource Center
WCPSS PDK Audit Fact Sheet 
WCPSS PDK Audit Frequently Asked Questions 
WCPSS Audit Executive Summary 
WCPSS Audit Full Text

  • Learn more about Phi Delta Kappa at:

Phi Delta Kappa International

  • To see additional school system audits, visit:
Wake Education Partnership is an advocacy organization dedicated to making world-class schools possible in Wake County through business and community involvement. We play a critical role in bringing people together, raising the level of discussion through capacity building, and brokering information and relationships around key issues in public education. Founded in 1983 by Raleigh’s leading business, civic and political leaders, Wake Education Partnership serves as an independent link between the school system and the community to promote public responsibility for globally competitive schools in Wake County. Programs for 2007-08 focus on retaining effective teachers, developing effective education leaders, and ensuring healthy schools for all students.