Tips for Surviving a
Background on the Audit
• Historical and Recent Press reports which
identified issues or raised public
• State Department, School Committee,
Superintendent directed changes be
• State Department, Municipal Government,
School Committee requested audit
Highlights of Performance Audit
• LEA/Town contracted with XYZ
• X number of professional auditors
examined our operations and were ‘part of
our family” for x period of time
• Staff spent x thousand of hours compiling
information and assisting the auditors.
Audit Report and Findings
• Audit report was x pages long.
• It included x number of findings & x
number of recommendations.
• We are now using that information to
• We learned a lot and that information will
be invaluable to our future work
Ten Tips for Experiencing and
Responding to a Performance
10. A credible performance audit is
important for everyone
• The school department / school needs
recommendations that all members of the
community can support.
• The School Committee/ Town Council must
have faith in the product.
• The auditors want their findings and
recommendations to be acted upon.
• The consumers (parents, students, taxpayers)
want to know that evaluation is regular and the
basis for improvements
9. The right attitude makes the
• Look at Audit as an opportunity for making
• Prepare administrators and staff.
• Constantly and enthusiastically
communicate with all
The trick is in what one emphasizes. We
either make ourselves miserable, or we make
ourselves happy. The amount of work is
8. Assign an audit point person
• Does not need to be subject/content expert
• Should be a specific assignment, the whole job,
not add on to other duties and responsibilities
• Emphasizes the importance being attached to the
results and the actions prescribed for
• Must be a strong project manager and facilitator
7. Get a jump on the work ahead
• For example Review NEASC standards
• Become familiar with and learn
performance audit protocols.
• Review Federal or RIDE (or other)
• Look at other district/school performance
6. You don’t get a second chance to
make a first impression
• Do an in-person briefing for auditors.
• Most (NEASC e.g.) have this built in to
• Introduce auditors to all the key players.
• Have everything in the book.
• Set up a good space for auditors to work.
5. Write it Down
• Schedule regular briefing meetings and
• All members of the community need to be
• Be proactive: Raise issues/challenges as
they come up.
• Record and date items for action.
4. Provide information and make
• Respond to information requests quickly.
• Talk with staff about the need to be
responsive and monitor that.
• Make duplicate copies of everything you
3. Keep track of everything
• The public wants to know
• Even the best auditors lose things.
• It will be needed when the report is
Why am I always losing things? Why do they disappear?
Here one minute, gone the next, I’m sure I put them
2. Be ready to challenge and
• Engage your auditor on issues and or
differences of findings and interpretations.
• Don’t wait, it gets more hectic as the deadline
• Use facts and data to back your arguments.
He who has learned to disagree without
being disagreeable has discovered the most valuable
secret of a diplomat.
1. Be ready to communicate –
even if its not good news
• Prepare and disseminate communications
• Stay on message
• Prepare for the tough questions and have well reasoned
and thoughtful answers
• Be candid
• Use your website, answer the phone and respond to
Think like a wise man but
communicate in the language of
William Butler Yeats
The bottom line…
• Treat the performance audit as though you had
asked for it.
• There may be pain, but is should lead to gains
• An audit can highlight what you are doing well
and provide the leverage needed to initiate
changes in areas which need improvement.
• A performance audit can help you meet your
loftiest goals, in our case – student performance