As we work to recover from the global disruption to education, we have the opportunity to establish a new and better world, where we incorporate the best of what we know with the best of what we’ve learned, and respond with an approach that ensures education systems are equitable, inclusive and culturally responsive, and prepare students with the skills they need for a better tomorrow.
Whether your school is just starting to focus on culture or your plan just needs a little tweaking, a culture audit is always a good place to start. A school culture audit allows the leadership team to identify schoolwide strengths and areas for growth, and create an action plan for a sustainable positive school culture.
→ Read more in our 2021 Back to School Guide
The primary benefit of the audit is that the results serve as your school’s roadmap to implement best practices. By identifying areas of improvement first, your team will have the confidence to know their decisions and actions are being driven by data and not opinions.
Performing a School Culture Audit
How you carry out your audit is up to you and your team. For a more comprehensive and unbiased audit, you may consider bringing in a third party. If resources are limited, you can conduct your audit internally.
Before the Audit
A school should begin its audit process by identifying what it needs to know by first outlining expectations and the ideal culture it wants and then ascertaining what data is available to determine whether the school is living up to that image. It’s important to base your audit off of a variety of data rather than gut feelings and single measures that don’t tell the whole story. Looking at different types of data can help answer questions and identify gaps between your potential and current performance.
Before conducting an audit, determine and collect the data currently available in your school. If current data does not exist, consider administering a culture survey to students, families and staff to gather feedback and ensure you are inclusive of all perspectives.
During the Audit
To save time, reduce bias, maintain objectivity, and to ensure the process receives the attention necessary for successful implementation, schools should bring in a third party to conduct their culture audit. Audits should include staff and student interviews, observing existing school culture practices, analyzing results of a leadership self-assessment, and reviewing current culture data.
If conducting an audit internally, bring together a team of school culture leaders to evaluate your school based on this abbreviated version of Kickboard’s School Culture Rubric.
Before the team meets, each member independently scores each rubric indicator on a scale of 1 to 4. The team then comes together to compare and calibrate scores until the team reaches consensus on each score that currently reflects the school’s culture and practices. Celebrate the indicators that have high scores, and identify the areas of school culture that need improvement.
After the Audit
From the audit, recommendations for improvement should be provided. These strategies should be realistic, actionable, and supportive of students and families who have been impacted by trauma.
If you’re serious about improving your school culture, check out our free guide, Returning to School: 10 Crucial Steps for a Positive School Culture for more expert advice.