Diploma Matters: Educational Opportunity Audit & Blueprint for Action Resources

Diploma Matters:  A Field Guide for College and Career Readiness (Jossey-Bass) is written for practitioners who believe fully that the K-12 experience should prepare all students equally well for the full array of opportunities that await them after high school.  Whatever they choose, high school graduates should be equipped with the knowledge and skills that will make them successful in both college and careers.

This field guide is intended to help state leaders, district superintendents, principals, and other site and district leaders gain a deep understanding of what it takes to ensure that students from all backgrounds have access to a rigorous course of study that leads to college and career readiness. It can also be a useful resource in the higher education arena as part of teacher preparation and administrator leadership programs.

Readers will find a “toolkit” developed by The Education Trust-West.  The tools in the kit help school leaders and teachers examine the current high school experience (Educational Opportunity Audit), and then develop a detailed action plan (Blueprint) to transform curriculum so that their students are ready for college and work.

The Educational Opportunity Audit as described in Chapter 5  Diploma Matters by Dr. Linda Murray requires examination of many artifacts that collectively paint the picture of where you are with respect to preparing your students for college and career as they graduate from high school. They are used to examine what the current journey through high school looks like, outcomes for students as they progress through the grades, and what practices and policies are in place that result in access or lack of access to demanding coursework.

Below you will find the PDFs with the list of artifacts you will be gathering as the audit process unfolds. Please use the Educational Opportunity Audits Resource as a guide.

The Study of Student Transcripts

The review of student transcripts is critical to understand what the current journey through high school looks like and how far away you are from all students being prepared for college and career. The following documents can help you record critical transcript data and think through the essential questions to guide the student transcript review.

Tools included for the transcript review are:

  • Data collection templates for English Language Arts, Math, Science and other subjects.
  • Templates for guiding the student transcript review which include essential questions around course-taking patterns, interventions and chokepoints.

Below you will find the PDFs you will need to assess transcripts:

Surveys - Overview

A series of surveys gather needed data for the Educational Opportunity Audit. The primary purpose is to examine current status and needs in areas that are crucial to a high school reform initiative focusing on college readiness for all.

Areas to be surveyed include:

  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Student Support and Safety Nets
  • Human Resources
  • Professional Development
  • Facilities
  • Budget
  • Special Needs/Alternative Populations
  • Career Technical Education

Below you will find the PDFs you will need for the surveys:

Community Conversations

Community conversations are central to the public engagement work, beginning with a large scale community conversation, bringing together as many as 100+ representative stakeholders. The conversation builds off of the focus group work and explores the readiness of stakeholders to support high school reform. This initial conversation is conducted during the audit phase and the results provide baseline data for an ongoing public engagement process incorporated into the blueprint. Based upon results of the formal community conversation additional meetings may be held as needed.

Below you will find the PDFs you will need for Community Conversations:

Master Schedule Analysis

The review of master schedules tells you a great deal about the structure of schools, the deployment of resources and the instructional priorities that drive teaching and learning. It also uncovers barriers to access and success in rigorous coursework.

To help focus this review on the most critical things to look for, guidelines are included here:

Focus Group

A series of focus groups are conducted with students, teachers, counselors and parents/community members. The number of sessions needed for each focus group will depend on the size of the district and the number of high schools. If there are a small number of high schools then each focus group will be held at each of the high schools.

For example: If there are three high schools in the district; a student, teacher, counselor and parent focus group will be held at each for a total of 12 focus groups. At each session there should be 10-15 participants. The purpose is to probe attitudes and expectations relative to high school preparation in the district. The results are incorporated into the Educational Opportunity Audit Report that serves as the basis for the development of the Blueprint. The results are also used to define the challenges and opportunities to be addressed in a larger public engagement effort designed to build stakeholder consensus on needed high school reforms.

Below you will find the PDFs you will need for the Focus Groups:

Blueprint for Action

The blueprint is your roadmap to college and career readiness. Building from all of the audit work, which shows what is happening now, it is intended to be a detailed action plan that describes what needs to be put in place to move from where you are to where you want to be. To begin the development of the blueprint that involves key stakeholders as part of a working committee, you will find a set of guiding questions and a sample template for recording action steps, timelines, roles and responsibilities, challenges, resource needs and outcomes for each focus area that has emerged from the audit.

Using the template, working committees develop detailed action plans for the areas of:

  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Student Support and Safety Net Interventions
  • Special Needs, Alternative, and English Language Learners
  • Teacher Capacity and Professional Development

In addition to this planning process, district leaders for human resources, facilities and budget will be developing action plans that are relevant to their areas of responsibility; e.g. what needs to be done to fill gaps in the teaching force to implement college readiness for all, what needs to be done to upgrade and expand science facilities and how do budget priorities need to shift to support the college and career ready reforms.

Below you will find the PDFs you will need to create a Blueprint for Action: