Austin Independent School District
Risk Assessment and Long-Range Plan
In conjunction with the Austin Independent School District’s Internal Audit department, Gibson performed a comprehensive risk assessment for Austin Independent School District as part of the pilot phase of the partnership between the Texas Association of School Boards and Gibson.
The project included over 40 interviews with Austin Independent School District staff and members of the Board of Trustees. We assisted the Internal Audit department in developing its long-range audit plan and FY 2012-13 audit schedule. Austin Independent School District contracted further with Gibson to help the district transition its internal audit function from its pre-existing narrow focus towards an expanded scope of coverage that included all programmatic and operational areas of the school system.
Hays Consolidated Independent School District
Academic Program Management Audit
Conducted as a part of our long-term internal audit agreement with Hays Consolidated Independent School District, this audit focused on the management processes, school-level practices, automated tools, and the accountability mechanisms used to support the academic program at Hays Consolidated Independent School District.
We analyzed six major areas of academic management including curriculum implementation fidelity, student data analysis and use, instructional resources and support, teacher observation and evaluation, teacher professional development, and academic program management and decision-making.
Our approach involved the analysis and the corroboration of data from multiple sources including district-provided data, teacher surveys, interviews with central office staff, teacher and principal focus group sessions, and classroom observations.
Our recommendations included changes to academic program organization structure, decision-making framework, student data analysis, classroom observation protocols, lesson plans, teacher professional development, and procedures through which curriculum implementation is monitored.
Fort Bend Independent School District
Gibson has served as the internal auditor for continuous improvement for Fort Bend Independent School District (FBISD) since 2013. The Board sought to expand the impact of its internal audit program by conducting department-level audits, and include every aspect of school system programs and operations. Under this engagement, Gibson has reported directly to the Board Audit Committee as required by state law. Below are examples of internal audit engagements for FBISD.
Academic Program Management Audit
As part of its continuing contract to provide internal auditing services to FBISD, Gibson conducted an Academic Program Management Audit in 2019-20. Beginning in 2016, FBISD launched an entire curriculum re-write for all K-12 content areas. Additionally, the district implemented a new learning management system (Schoology) to house and deliver the new curriculum. The primary objective of the project was to assess the management and implementation of academic programming – with a focus on FBISD’s new initiatives – and ensure that resource utilization was being maximized. The scope of the audit focused on several key areas: effectiveness of instructional leadership and academic program management, quality of professional learning and supports, strategies around performance management, and an evaluation of FBISD’s curriculum management, instruction, and assessments. Gibson conducted its audit through data analysis, interviews, and surveys, delivering its recommendations to FBISD’s school board, which ranged from strategies for campus leaders’ development of teachers to change management practices to improve the implementation of district-wide initiatives.
Construction Management Internal Audits
Gibson has conducted three internal audits of FBISD’s construction management function since 2014. The first audit was of the entire construction management function. This audit was different from a typical internal audit in that it was “preemptive,” meaning the focus was more on evaluating the readiness of the district’s construction management function for a $484 million bond program. Procedures for this audit included the review of department organization, the bidding and award process, execution and administration of contracts, change order procedures, and budget control. The audit team evaluated applicable board policies and district procedures and controls for construction management, including management reporting. The audit also included a review of district processes to determine whether opportunities for efficiency improvements exist. Gibson performed limited audit testing of historical construction projects to better understand current processes and to corroborate information obtained through interviews and document reviews. Eleven recommendations resulted from this audit. The major recommendations included:
- Modify project reporting to provide more detail regarding changes to schedule and specifications, as well as increased status reporting. Additional data would increase oversight and equip FBISD with the data to hold contractors accountable for performance.
- Develop or update existing standards for design and safety. Current design standards help ensure that FBISD is in compliance with law and that schools are constructed in ways that align to their academic goals and philosophies. Safety standards must be developed and enforced for job sites, particularly at active school sites.
- Maximize the use of availability technology within invoice processing and overall project management. Efficiencies and increased reporting capabilities could be realized by re-engineering the contractor payment process and using a comprehensive Project Management Information System.
Gibson also conducted a follow-up audit of these recommendations. Gibson interviewed staff responsible for implementing the recommendations, and reviewed and verified the actions taken by FBISD in response to the recommendations. Gibson’s follow-up audit found that all of the recommendations made in the initial audit report had been fully implemented.
The purpose of the third audit was to monitor the district’s oversight of a third-party program manager, ensuring compliance with the District’s Design and Construction Procedures Manual, and adhering to the Program Management Plan. Using direct access to the Project Management Information System used by the third-party program manager and FBISD, Gibson audited program information, activities, and reporting directly from the system, all of which led to the development of five recommendations for the district. This audit helped FBISD proactively identify a campus that was at-risk for not opening by the beginning of the school year. Other recommendations focused on increasing progress reporting requirements for the third-party and improving internal controls over site observation activities and documentation.
Internal Audit Recommendation Implementation Dashboard
The FBISD Board Audit Committee (BAC) was looking for a consolidated way to track the implementation status of various audits that have been performed as part of its internal audit program. Gibson developed a secure, web-based interactive dashboard for the FBISD board members so they are able to monitor the implementation status of all recommendations made in audits and follow-up audits. In addition, the Board members are able to access supporting documentation that the management has provided that provides evidence that recommendations have been implemented. Because the internal audit implementation dashboard consolidates all internal audit implementation status information into a single portal, BAC members are able to provide effective oversight of the internal audit program.
Killeen Independent School District
Gibson has served as the internal auditor for the Killeen ISD Board of Trustees since 2014. Similar to the arrangement with FBISD described above, Gibson reports to the Board Audit Committee (BAC) and conducts a wide range of departmental and program audits. The overall goal of the program is continuous improvement. Below are examples of internal audits conducted by Gibson for KISD.
Student Information Systems and Public Education Information Management Systems Audit
Gibson conducted an audit of Killeen Independent School District’s (KISD) student information system and state data submission functions, which included an assessment the existence and adequacy of controls, processes and procedures in place within the student information system and the Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS) functions. The audit also validated that the data generated by both functions are accurate and compliant with state standards. The audit team reviewed documents, and conducted process mapping sessions, interviews, focus groups, and campus visits. The audit resulted in 16 recommendations which addressed organizational misalignments, insufficiency of training, lack of automation of key processes, and lack of controls. Due to the potential impact of state funding, a comprehensive compliance analysis in “attendance taking” was conducted. The results of this analysis highlighted those schools that KISD should closely monitor and support to improve compliance with attendance reporting requirements. The recommendations resulting from this audit helped to ensure that KISD operates efficiently and mitigates financial risk due to a lack of compliance in managing student data.
Budget and Key Performance Indicator Dashboard
KISD board members were looking for an easy and dynamic way to access expenditure and staffing information during their budget discussions and approval processes without burdening the district staff with multiple requests for data and reports. Gibson developed a series of dashboards for budget analysis and key performance indicator monitoring for the KISD board members, giving them insight into the district’s planned spending and staffing. The budget analyses dashboards included analysis of the district’s global, functional, school, and administrative areas. The dashboards not only provide multi-year trend analysis for spending and staffing, but also have the capability of drilling down to the lowest available data points for in-depth analysis.
In 2019, KISD’s enrollment had been increasing annually and bus ridership had steadily outpaced enrollment growth over a five year period. To address this challenge, Gibson conducted an audit of the District’s transportation department to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of transportation services and to ensure compliance with all local, state, and federal laws. The scope of the audit included an evaluation of policies and procedures, staff and administrator certifications and qualifications, route and fuel efficiency, fleet tracking and maintenance, and budget and resource management. Gibson conducted its audit through interviews, site observations, bus ride-alongs, surveys, and district and state-level data analysis. Recommendations were made to the school board that led to improvements in compliance, organizational management and structure, operating efficiencies, and fleet management.
Hillsborough County Public Schools, FL
Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) contracted with Gibson to conduct an Educational and Operational Efficiency Audit to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the district’s major operations and programs over a 16-month period. This work was prompted by a $140 million budget deficit that needed to be addressed. Instead of across-the-board cuts, HCPS hired Gibson to make more informed budget reductions that targeted inefficient practices.
Gibson conducted this work in three phases (i.e., Phase I: Operational Audit, Major Cost Savings; Phase II: Operational Audit, Comprehensive Review; and Phase III: Academic Management Audit). Our work included the collection and analysis of extant data, staff interviews, school leader interviews, classroom walkthroughs, focus groups with various stakeholders, and comparisons to peer, state, and national data. The results of the Phase I and Phase II audits identified significant opportunities for HCPS to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its central office operations, which resulted in a net savings of $100 million per year. The findings identified during Phase III yielded several recommendations for improving the overall efficiency and effectiveness of HCPS’ instructional programs.
Clark County School District, NV
Educational and Operational Efficiency Assessment Study
Clark County School District (CCSD) – the fifth-largest school system in the United States – selected Gibson from among six competing firms to conduct a comprehensive educational and operational efficiency assessment. This comprehensive evaluation, conducted in a condensed timeframe (3 months), involved the identification of major cost reduction opportunities, a review of the District’s budget process, development of a data dashboard prototype for performance measure tracking, a review of educational programs and management, and a student performance review. Gibson collected and analyzed over 1,000 documents from CCSD and interviewed approximately 260 CCSD staff members. Gibson identified 45 recommendations for improvement which was estimated that, if fully implemented, would result in annual General Fund net cost reductions of approximately $52 million per year. For this project, Gibson also developed a data dashboard prototype for CCSD to use in performance measure tracking.
Anne Arundel County Public Schools, MD
Gibson was selected by the Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) Board to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of selected functional areas within the Local Education Agency (LEA). Gibson’s scope of the performance audit included a review of the following functional areas: governance and management, senior academic management, financial management, human resources management, and information technology. Gibson made 35 recommendations to improve operating efficiency and effectiveness. Several recommendations were made that addressed challenges in all of the functional areas reviewed:
- Overhaul several elements of board governance, including the clarification of legal versus local policies, improving budget information presented to the Board, a more efficient board meeting structure, and a more consistent application of Roberts’ Rules of Order.
- Streamline business processes to reduce reliance on manual, paper-intensive processes, and integrate disparate information systems. Many areas within Financial Management and Human Resource Management were mired in paper processes, which monopolized staff time and represented increased risk to the LEA. Gibson made several process improvement recommendations to develop automated workflows and strengthen internal controls through preventive configuration controls.
- Implement performance management frameworks to hold central office departments accountable for meeting goals and objectives. Gibson noted a lack of system-wide performance measurement, which was a contributing factor to many outdated processes within the LEA.
The inefficiency in AACPS’ business processes resulted in much higher levels of clerical positions relative to its peers. The estimated cost savings associated with reducing the clerical/staff ratio to their peer average was approximately $3 million annually.
Clear Creek Independent School District, TX
Special Education Performance Review
Gibson was contracted by Clear Creek Independent School District (CCISD) to conduct a comprehensive review of the District’s special education programs and services. At the time of the review, CCISD’s special education student enrollment had outpaced overall student enrollment growth by a wide margin (16% compared to 5%) over the previous six years. The primary objective of Gibson’s review was to identify areas of strength within the special education department as well as opportunities to improve efficiency and effectiveness, in order to ultimately improve outcomes for students receiving special education services. The scope of the review included an assessment of CCISD’s special education department organizational structure and staffing allocations, financial management practices, IEP compliance, teacher qualifications and retention, as well as other areas. Gibson’s recommendations ultimately addressed a wide range of areas for improvement, ranging from the creation of a special education parent resource center to the monitoring and tracking of Response to Intervention (RTI) data.
School District of Lee County, FL
Global Data Scan and Overall Efficiency Report
Gibson was engaged by the School District of Lee County (Lee County) to measure the efficiency and effectiveness of the district’s major operations and programs. Gibson conducted a global data scan of district efficiency and developed an efficiency report card for each major program, administrative, and operational area. The scope of the assessment included all administrative and operational areas, including general district management, school management, human resources, business services, facilities management, technology management, food services management, and transportation Management.
Gibson worked with the administration to define performance measures for each area, collected and validated data, and calculated performance measures for Lee County and peer districts. The trend in Lee County measures over the past five years and results of peer comparisons were recorded in an efficiency report card for each of the areas above.
Texas Education Agency
Evaluation of the Texas SUCCESS Initiative
The Texas Students Using Curriculum Content to Ensure Sustained Success (SUCCESS) program offers state-funded access to computerized interactive mathematics and reading programs. These programs are provided by two vendors—Istation Reading (Istation) and Think Through Math (TTM)—to all Texas public school students in Grades 3-8.
We employed a mixed-methods approach to evaluate the Texas SUCCESS program that had been implemented in school districts across the state. Our design approach was quasi-experimental and explored the relationship between the intensity of Istation and TTM program usage and student outcomes on the 2013-14 State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness
Generally, a positive relationship was observed between the completion of online math lessons and gains on the 2013-14 STAAR® test; however, results were mixed depending upon the program and grade level.
To access the full report on SUCCESS visit the Texas Education Agency’s website:
Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
Evaluation of the AVID for Higher Education Program
The AVID for Higher Education (AHE) program is designed to provide students with the supports needed to be successful in college. Our evaluation of the AHE program spanned three years and included an extensive assessment of program implementation. We made a comprehensive analysis of the relationship between program participation and key student metrics (persistence in college, cumulative grade point average, and cumulative credit accrual).
The study, which tracked student outcomes for three cohorts of students (fall 2012, fall 2013, and fall 2014), found small, yet statistically significant program effects. Click here to access the full report.
New Hampshire Department of Education
Statewide Parent Involvement in Special Education (Indicator 8) and Post School Outcomes (Indicator 14) Surveys
Our research team works with the NHDOE to annually survey two target populations for required state reporting:
- parents of students receiving special education services (to measure schools’ facilitation of parent involvement as a means of improving services); and
- students with an Individualized Education Plan who exited the school system in a given year (to measure post-high school employment and education paths).
On an annual basis, Gibson administers surveys to parents of over 30,000 students and to more than 3,000 exited students across the state. We use Rasch scaling methods on the NCSEAM Parent Involvement surveys to calculate results and to provide district-level reports in addition to statewide results. We also provide technical support to school districts in understanding and using results to make targeted improvement efforts.
Click here to access a statewide summary report from this project.
Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
Evaluation of the Comprehensive Student Success Program
Implemented in eight higher education institutions across the state, the CSSP had several goals: increase student completion of courses with traditionally high rates of failure and/or withdrawal, increase completion of degrees or certificates, improve faculty involvement in student success initiatives, and increase student participation in campus activities and events. Institutions that participated implemented early warning data systems, made changes to instructional approaches, increased contact between advisors/counselors and students, and increased faculty involvement in supporting student success.
Gibson employed a mixed-method design incorporating interviews and classroom observations to measure implementation, with quantitative analyses examining program outcomes. Results were promising, with CSSP students earning more credits on average than comparison students and demonstrating higher rates of persistence. Results varied by institution.
Tyler Independent School District
Evaluation of the Bilingual/English as a Second Language Program
The Gibson research team, along with experts in bilingual/ESL education from American Institutes for Research (AIR), conducted an evaluation of Tyler’s bilingual/ESL program in an effort to identify areas for focused, targeted improvements.
This study included two main components:
- Analysis of the districts’ English Language Learner student data (including assessment scores, language proficiency scores, parent denial rates), including examination of performance over time by various sub-groups of interest (e.g., by grade, by school, by ELL status).
- Examination of the district’s implementation of its bilingual model, and the identification of areas where improvements may have impacts on student outcomes.
Various strengths of Tyler’s programming were identified, and recommendations were made for program improvement, particularly in the areas of program model selection and implementation, as well as collaboration and coordination across departments, strategies for improving identification and placement, and ideas for attracting/developing qualified bilingual staff in needed areas.
Click here to read an article about the program.
United States Department of Education
Research Projects under the Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest
The Gibson research team also works on various projects funded through the Department of Education. These studies span various states, including Texas, New Mexico, and Virginia, and are conducted in partnership with Regional Education Laboratories.
These projects include studies that focus on:
- The under-representation of Hispanic students in Science, Technology, Engineering,
and Math (STEM) courses (while in high school) and fields of study (in college).
- Advanced high school course-taking patterns across different student groups—particularly historically underserved student groups—and advanced course offerings across different schools.
- Student performance in low-performing schools with various accountability designations.
- Longitudinal participation rates in state-funded PreK programs disaggregated by student
- Kindergarten readiness and psychometric assessment of school readiness measures.
Click here to learn more about the Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest.
University of Southern California
Project-Based Learning Approach to Advanced Placement Teaching and Learning
In collaboration with researchers from the Center for Economic and Social Research at the University of Southern California, Gibson is currently examining the effectiveness of Knowledge in Action (KIA), a project-based learning approach to teaching Advanced Placement (AP) courses. This randomized controlled trial field experiment in 75 schools across five large U.S. school districts is investigating teachers’ KIA implementation and the impacts of KIA on students’ academic performance as measured by AP exam-taking and scores, critical thinking and problem solving skills as measured by the College and Work Readiness Assessment, and intra- and interpersonal skills and civic engagement as measured by a student survey.
Texas Association of School Business Officials
For the Texas Association of School Business Officials, Gibson upgraded a comprehensive statewide student, financial, staffing, and demographic database – called the Financial Analysis and Comparison of Texas Schools (FACTS) – to include data visualization tools accessed through the Internet. This upgraded business intelligence tool – eFACTS+ – provided multi-dimensional online analytical processing functionality in a fully accessible web-based environment, which helped school systems’ analysts easily analyze performance trends via a researcher friendly interface fit for the casual and power user.
In the years following the upgrade, Gibson provided further eFACTS+ enhancements as well as training.
School District of Lee County
Community Survey and Data Visualization Tool
Gibson worked with the School District of Lee County on a large-scale community survey, as well as a survey of secondary school students, assessing attitudes and opinions about student assignment approaches, the district’s programs and services quality, expanded program preferences, and parent involvement issues.
As a part of that project, Gibson developed an interactive data visualization tool that graphically presented results from the survey, allowing in-depth examination of survey responses based on any demographic characteristic of interest (e.g., ethnicity, gender, and income). With the click of a button users can choose to display survey results by respondent demographics to examine results that interest them.
Manor Independent School District
Budget Analysis Tool
Manor Independent School District hired Gibson to assist the district in analyzing its 2015-16 budget. Gibson helped the board to better understand Manor Independent School District’s expenditure and staffing levels and to better answer specific questions about budget line items by developing a budget analysis and data visualization tool.
In collaboration with the board, Gibson collected and validated the district’s expenditures and staffing data. Working with the board and senior leadership, we designed and developed a visualization tool that allowed users to analyze expenditure data in the aggregate and on a per student basis. The tool also allowed users to drill down according to every element of the district’s account code structure, including locally assigned codes.
Jeffco Public Schools (Colorado)
Employee Satisfaction Survey and Data Visualization Tool
For Jefferson County Public Schools (JEFFCO) – the largest school district in Colorado – Gibson performed cross-sectional and longitudinal data analysis on the school system’s employee satisfaction survey data. We analyzed 10 years of employee data to examine differences between employee groups and trends over time for different areas of satisfaction – including constructs such as employee effectiveness, district diversity, supervision, compensation, and benefits.
In addition to providing JEFFCO with targeted recommendations to improve employee satisfaction in key areas, we developed an interactive data visualization tool for JEFFCO that enabled leadership to view survey results at the construct level or item level, and to slice mean scores by any of the demographic characteristics available for analysis.