Auditors spend several hours in the lab area and classroom, inventorying supplies, assessing space, and interviewing science teachers. Every item is counted from beakers, eye droppers and Petri dishes to larger equipment such as microscopes, computers, and incubators. Auditors are also in search of safety items, such as first aid kits, fire blankets, and fire extinguishers. Information gathered during the audits will be compared to the classroom curriculum.
“We want to compare the two and see if they really have the supplies and materials they need to teach what it is in their curriculum,” said Amy Youngblood, project director for SuccessLink’s curriculum initiatives. “We also look at the classroom space to see if they have enough square footage for all the students, and safety equipment is very important as well.”
Steve Haffener, science teacher at Spring Hill Middle School in the Spring Hill School Unified School District, said his biggest obstacle as a science teacher is space – space for students to work in the lab and space for storage of materials. He takes part each summer in the Kansas Association of Teachers of Science (KATS) camps so he keeps supplies in his classroom for those presentations as well as supplies for students.
“The first room I was in had seven or eight tables with some chairs and one sink in the corner,” he said. “We had no gas and used a lot of alcohol burners.”
His largest class of students this year is 26. However, one school year he remembers having 31 students in a class and with growth in the Spring Hill area, he anticipates the norm to be 27 per class next school year.
Another component of the audit will be an online survey open to superintendents, building principals, and teachers. The purpose of the survey is to gather details about teacher professional development, equity issues in the buildings and curriculum and achievement information.
Final reports will be available this school year.
“Our hope is that this local report will be a similar report to the national one and tell us where we are in science right now in our schools so we can close the gap,” Youngblood said.