What is the BPS Audit?

In recent weeks, there have been a handful of media reports — from the Boston Globe to WBUR — detailing various thoughts about what the state’s audit of the Boston Public Schools could mean once the report is released to the public this month. 

The audit, which is a comprehensive review of the district by a team from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MA DESE), is not an ordinary or regular occurrence. In fact, Boston has not been the subject of a state audit since 2009, but key metrics pointing to concerns around student performance can prompt such an action.

As reported by WBUR on February 28, “State law requires periodic audits of school districts, especially those with a history of academic struggles, and produce a ‘comprehensive report’ on its findings.” If a district is underperforming, MA DESE has the authority to “undertake a wide array of interventions: from modifications of curriculum or union contracts to the takeover of schools.”

While the audit report is expected to be released this week, MA DESE has spent the last several months visiting BPS schools and taking a deep dive into key district data points, including:

  • Governance and leadership
  • Student attendance
  • Graduation and dropout rates
  • Overall MCAS performance and growth, noting gaps by race and by classification (how are English Learners, Students With Disabilities, and Low-Income Students performing?)
  • Curriculum and instruction
  • Student Support

Recent media reports have also pointed to troublesome signs in BPS performance, from a recent decline in graduation rates with growing gaps between student groups to chronic absenteeism to facilities challenges. Other district reviews produced by MA DESE have identified a school system’s strengths as well as weaknesses, and then prescribed recommendations for improvement.

SchoolFacts Boston will review the audit of the BPS as soon as it is available and will publish a summary of its key findings. In the meantime, do you have questions or concerns about the BPS audit? Please let us know at info@schoolfactsboston.org.