Office of Accountability

Differentiated Accountability
External School Curriculum Audits
2010 -11 Corrective Action (Year 1) Schools

All schools identified in the Differentiated Accountability System as both Focused or Comprehensive Corrective Action (year 1) must undertake an External School Curriculum Audit (ESCA) within six months of identification. The ESCA targets the identified accountability measure(s) and subgroup(s) not making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and assesses the following:

  • the alignment of the school’s curriculum with the NY State Learning Standards and the implementation of that curriculum; and
  • the alignment of the curriculum to instruction.

The ESCA results in a Curriculum Audit Report with recommendations which must be incorporated into the school’s 2011-2012 Comprehensive Educational Plan (CEP). Districts are required by USDE to implement two corrective actions, so one additional appropriate Corrective Action as per NCLB and any other actions to be taken by the district must be included in the Corrective Action Plan in the CEP. The district is responsible for identifying and providing supports required to implement these recommendations. The district Corrective Action Plan and the school’s CEP must be approved by the district and sent to SED no later than August 31, 2011.

Selection of a Vendor

A district with schools newly identified as Corrective Action (year 1) will select and enter into an agreement with a vendor to conduct an External School Curriculum Audit (ESCA), with the approval of SED. The district must choose a vendor via a competitive process that follows all district procurement procedures and policies.
In selecting a vendor or evaluator, the district should consider the following criteria:

  • sufficient size, capacity and experience to complete the audit within the specified timeframe, i.e., November 2010 through May 2011 (including completion of the audit and submission of the External School Curriculum Audit Report);
  • experience in delivering timely, high quality pre-K through 12 educational products and services;
  • specific expertise in research based curriculum design, instruction, professional development and/or systemic organizational improvement;
  • demonstrated understanding of NYS Learning Standards in the identified content area(s);
  • a proven history of working successfully with districts and schools of similar demographics, and;
  • substantial experience in the identified accountability measure(s) and subgroup(s) identified for improvement.

Districts may consider the following general list of vendors:

  • curriculum auditing companies;
  • educational consultants;
  • institutions of higher education; and
  • professional organizations with experience conducting curriculum audits.

Note: If the school is located in a district identified as a District In Need of Improvement (DINI) that has participated in a District Audit of Curriculum (AOC), the district may select the same vendor. The vendor must take into consideration the existing District AOC Plan when developing recommendations for the school’s External School Curriculum Audit Report.


Districts with identified Title I Corrective Action schools will be eligible for a grant to cover the costs associated with conducting the External School Curriculum Audit. Districts with identified non-Title I school(s) must cover the costs through other funding sources.

The ESCA Report

The External School Curriculum Audit Report must:

  • address the accountability measure(s), the grade level(s) and subgroup(s) for which the school has failed to make AYP;
  • analyze the learning environment and school culture, including district and school policies to provide a safe, equitable and orderly learning environment, the social emotional atmosphere of the learning environment, and the supports for students;
  • make recommendations for the school’s improvement. These recommendations should:
    • meet all applicable State Education Department (SED) regulations and requirements, including addressing mastery of all learning standards in the identified area(s);
    • be actionable in light of district fiscal constraints; and
    • be both long- and short-term.

Elements of the Audit Report

The final External School Curriculum Audit Report completed by the vendor is expected to include, as appropriate, the following elements:


    • Initial context/data to include a demographic profile of the community that incorporates socioeconomic data and a profile of the school’s student population
    • Philosophical statement of approach to audit

Critical Analysis

    • Current policies, plans, resources, strengths and weaknesses of curriculum, including:
      • written curriculum;
      • taught curriculum;
      • tested curriculum;
      • the translating of policy, planning and organizational control into effective curriculum delivery;
      • vertical (across grades) and horizontal (across subject areas, classrooms and settings) alignment with State standards;
      • consistency of what is written and taught;
      • alignment with NYS Learning Standards, performance indicators, key ideas and district standards;
      • alignment of textbooks and resources adopted by district or selected by teachers with the NYS Learning Standards;
      • equity of access and opportunity for all students in the building;
      • the availability and use of instructional technology; and
      • the adequacy of the school building and facilities.
    • Instruction - The degree to which:
      • written curriculum is taught and tested by highly qualified teachers;
      • pedagogical strategies are implemented based on student needs;
      • pedagogical strategies meet research based standards;
      • administrators ensure that lesson plan objectives are aligned with NYS Learning Standards;
      • grading is based on the use of rubrics and other objective criteria;
      • strategies are implemented consistently for all students;
      • school culture, including how safety, equity, etc., affect the learning environment, and the degree to which the LEA supports the physical, cultural, socioeconomic, and intellectual needs of the students are assessed;
      • instructional and pupil support services are available during school, before/after school, weekends and summers;
      • teachers identify and provide appropriate additional instruction for students who are not at proficient levels;
      • district and school building policies ensure that all students attend the entire school day regularly;
      • policies ensure that time out of class is minimized;
      • school strategies ensure that teachers and teacher assistants’ attendance is optimal;
      • strategies actively engage students in learning; and
      • learning activities are relevant and rigorous.
    • Professional Development includes:
      • strategies for ensuring consistent, continuous true research-based professional development across all classrooms;
      • strategies for ensuring that professional development translates into effective classroom strategies;
      • strategies for supporting new teachers, uncertified teachers and any other teachers needing additional support/mentoring;
      • strategies for building both content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge;
      • presenters who are knowledgeable in research-based instructional strategies and are expert in their use;
      • consistency of administration in supporting and evaluating professional development;
      • the degree to which staff participates in professional development and show evidence of implementation of new strategies;
      • focus on curriculum alignment with both State and district standards and sound educational research and practice; and
      • the degree to which professional development reflects a commitment to both equity and diverse needs of the students and families of the community.
    • Assessment/Data Analysis includes:
      • use of assessments and other student work for monitoring of curriculum and instruction by teachers and administrators;
      • use of classroom, school, district, State and other assessments and data to determine program/curriculum effectiveness and efficiency;
      • use of item analysis to inform instruction on proficiency levels on NYS Learning Standards;
      • use of multiple assessments for diagnostic and re-teaching purposes; and
      • frequency of data analysis conducted by teachers, grade levels, subject area specialists.
    • Management/Administrative Staff Support - The degree of effectiveness of:
      • leadership practices that promote student achievement and support and evaluate teachers’ instructional practices:
        • regularly scheduled teacher evaluations;
        • informal walkthrough visits to classes;
        • timely feedback to teachers; and
        • monitoring the implementation of a curriculum aligned with NYS Learning Standards.
      • communication and collaboration between teachers of the content area identified for improvement and:
        • other content area teachers;
        • other teachers;
        • pupil personnel services staff;
        • special education and/or English as a second language (ESL) staff;
        • department chairperson, principal and other administrators;
        • school and district administration; and
        • parents, critical stakeholders and community members
      • accountability policies;
      • curriculum centered budget;
      • resources targeted to most at risk students;
      • staff assignments based on student needs;
      • resource allocation focused on curriculum priorities and areas of greatest need; and
      • support for positive school climate and environment.
    • Compliance with:
      • State and federal mandated requirements; and
      • District goals/objectives.

Follow-up after the ESCA Report

When the External School Curriculum Audit is completed and the report is issued, the school must send a copy of the ESCA Report to SED. Then the school must revise its Comprehensive Educational Plan (CEP) to include strategies to implement the recommendations contained in the Curriculum Audit Report. The revised CEP must be approved by the District’s Board of Education and submitted to SED no later than August 31, 2011. Implementation of the Plan must commence by the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year and be supported and monitored by the district.  In addition, districts must use the total funds from the school’s School Improvement Grant (SIG) for the subsequent year (2011-12) to continue implementing the recommendations of the audit.  The district will also be required to complete and submit a mid-year evaluation during 2011-12 to NYSED that provides evidence that the audit recommendations are effectively implemented.

ESCA Protocols, October 25, 2010


Last Updated: December 1, 2010