Performance Audits : Education

State Government : Performance Audit Earlier work addressing Education

This page contains synopses, links to published reports, and other materials that address issues of education.

Workforce Development: Identifying CTE Student Outcomes (pdf, 740 kb)
December 2016
Summary: This performance audit asked what Washington's data could tell us about the characteristics of high school students who participated in CTE courses and those who did not, and their achievements after graduation. By following graduates' post-secondary paths, we found that by 2015, CTE students graduating in 2012 or 2013 were more likely to be enrolled in community or technical college, entered into an apprenticeship or employed, than non-CTE students. Further, among graduates who did not enter higher education, CTE students were significantly more likely to achieve in terms of employment and apprenticeships. However, the data we reviewed is subject to restrictions on how and by whom it may be used. Our recommendations suggest ways the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Education Research and Data Center can work together to help school districts apply for and use the data. View the videocast here (YouTube). Read the two-page summary (pdf, 90 kb). View earlier work around workforce development.

Alternative Learning Experience (ALE) in Washington (pdf, 2.4mb)
February 2016
Summary: For the first full report in a long-term study of educational outcomes for students enrolled in ALE programs, performance auditors visited 10 programs associated with higher student outcomes and reviewed student data. Interviews with program staff and participants provided many insights into the way such programs serve students and the challenges they may face. Our review of student data, however, has been affected by continuing data quality problems, and we made recommendations to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction that could help improve data reliability. Learn more about the audit series and view the videocast here. Read the two-page summary (pdf, 87 kb)    

Workforce Development System: Identifying Overlap, Duplication and Fragmentation (pdf, 1.7 mb)
August 2015
Summary: This performance audit set out to map the workforce development system in Washington, and found a complex network of 55 programs, managed by 12 state agencies and multiple service providers, at a cost of more than $1 billion a year in federal and state funds. It is complex because it serves a wide variety of people in vastly differing circumstances, requiring coordinated effort among many programs to develop a skilled workforce able to meet the diverse demands of business and industry in Washington. Our review did identify duplication, fragmentation and overlap of services in workforce development​ programs, but found that these instances are largely justifiable. We also identified risks that may call for further analysis, related to coordination among programs and variations in local service delivery. See multimedia materials here.​ Read the two-page sum​m​ary(pdf, 142kb) View the workforce development system map (11"x17" pdf, 210 kb)

Higher Education Performance-Based Funding (pdf, 520kb)
April 2014
Summary: Funding higher education based on performance is becoming increasingly common across the country. We found that policy goals and systems vary widely, with goals determining the performance metrics used to allocate funding. After reviewing metrics used by 11 states, we asked Washington's six public colleges and universities about the metrics they collect. We found they collect data for most metrics used by other states, including the five most common. We also identified leading practices that could help guide policy-makers in Washington. See additional materials here. Read the two-page summary (pdf, 153kb)

K-12 Education Spending (pdf, 2.5mb) - June 2012
Work for this performance audit organized the state's nearly 300 public K-12 school districts into 37 peer groups whose members share similar characteristics, and examined those with the lowest amounts spent on costs other than classroom teaching. The report summarizes several of the most promising approaches that districts could use to contain non-instructional costs. It also recommends that the state more accurately report the percentage of dollars districts spend on teaching.

Washington's K-12 Education Accountability System for Low-Performing Schools (pdf, 270kb) - June 2013 
The relatively high percentage of Washington's students attending a low-performing school and new federal requirements for the state prompted us to conduct a performance audit of the state’s system to hold schools accountable. A new law acts on criteria identified in our performance audit.

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