"Auditors say that many schools have no textbooks or planned curriculum"

March 17, 2010

By Bill Jaynes
The Kaselehlie Press

Chuuk, FSM-Over 12,000 students were registered to be educated by Chuuk's Department of Education during the 2008- 2009 school year, over half again as many as Kosrae's entire population. According to a recently released Office of the National Public Auditor (OPA) report, a good many of Chuuk's students are learning as best they can with no text books whatsoever. Though textbooks have been ordered and are on hand in the Chuuk Department of Education (DOE) warehouse either those text books are not getting to the schools in a timely manner or once they do get there they are stored. Sometimes teachers are not aware that text books are available for their use but sometimes teachers choose not to use text- books because they don't understand how to teach from them.

OPA released their audit report on Chuuk DOE textbooks and instructional materials on February 9, 2010. The report covered fiscal years 2006 through 2008.

Many of Chuuk's students are suffering academically. The audit team noted that only 10 of 312 (3%) of students from the Chuuk public high schools passed the Spring 2008 College of Micronesia Entrance Test (COMET).

According to an authoritative source outside of the audit report, students of one school in Chuuk scored an average score in 2008 that was "below random" on the COMET test. A "random score" would be the score that a test taker would be anticipated to make if he or she marked answers at random without looking at the questions. The source said that a school wide average of "below random" is considered to be statistically impossible.

While FSM Public Auditors were conducting a previous audit on procurement activities of the Chuuk Department of Education they found that a significant stash of textbooks in a Chuuk Department of Education warehouse had been received more than eight months prior to that audit. OPA decided then that an audit focusing specifically on textbook and instructional materials should be conducted. The previous audit was published in July of 2009.

Chuuk DOE received nearly $26.7 million dollars funded by Compact Sector Grants during the audit period. Of that amount, over $3.9 million, nearly 14% of the budget was spent for text books and instructional materials.

"Navigating with Pride: Vision 2020" was a blueprint for educational improvement in Chuuk laid out in 2001 through the year 2020. The Chuuk Educational Reform Plan (CERP) was adopted in 2005 to improve the Chuuk Department of Education (CDOE) management structure and internal controls. In 2007, a Chuuk State Strategic Plan for Education (CSSPE) 2007-2012 was not intended to be a new plan but its existence was essentially an acknowledgement that neither of the previous plans was working.

OPA looked at records and conducted physical inventory checks at fourteen sample schools in Chuuk when the schools were open for them to do so. To ensure the accuracy of textbook inventory levels, schools were asked to conduct their own inventory counts and report the results to DOE. The audit's first finding was based primarily on those counts.

Finding One: The Chuuk DOE failed to provide many student with textbooks and instructional materials.

"Overall, we found that many students did not have textbooks. In many instances entire classes were without any textbooks. In some instances, a school's entire grade lacked books," the report said.

The audit team pointed to several examples:

In addition to the lack of textbooks, schools lacked materials such as pencils, paper, chalk, crayons, markers, rulers, etc.

12 of the 14 schools the auditors visited reported that they did not receive any school supplies during the 2008-2009 school year. Of the two schools that did receive supplies one reported receiving them in March and the other in May just before the end of that school year.

According to OPA, Chuuk DOE was given sufficient funds to purchase textbooks and instructional materials but they didn't engage in standard management practices that would be expected of any organization.

Chuuk DOE did not develop a purchasing plan to identify which books should be purchased first, how many books should be purchased, and when the books should be purchased.

Auditors contrasted Chuuk's lack of a purchasing plan to Pohnpei's text book purchasing plan. Included in Pohnpei's plan is a schedule for each year that lists the subject, grade, student population, number of textbooks needed, annual budget, date by which books should be ordered, and timeline for receipt and distribution. None of that exists at the Chuuk DOE.

Chuuk DOE, like Chuuk Department of Health Services did not implement an inventory management system. DOE was able to tell what books had been received but not where the books had gone after they had been received.

Furthermore, schools were not held accountable for reporting their inventory levels to DOE and only 57% had submitted inventory reports though not on any regular basis.

"At every level of the organization from staff to management to the Board of Education, the Chuuk DOE failed to monitor and report whether it achieved the objective of providing textbooks to students," the report said. "DOE Subject Specialists, who are required to visit schools on a periodic basis, did not report on the sufficiency or lack of textbooks when submitting reports to departmental officials."

Further, a review of the meeting minutes of the Board of Education revealed that the Board did not receive any information regarding textbooks.

The audit team expected that due to the logistical difficulties of delivering books to the outer islands they might have found that there was a detailed plan to be certain that books were delivered in time for school years but found no plan at all.

They did fi nd that there was an inequitable distribution of textbooks.

Polle Elementary school had been chosen by the auditors for a visit but when the audit team arrived in Polle all of the teachers and students had been dismissed in order to attend a funeral.

Based on the remaining 13 schools they were able to review they found that 72% of the students in those school had no science textbooks while two schools had a large surplus of science text books. Iras and Mechitiw had an extra 354 science books that were not being utilized while other students went without.

DOE provided textbooks free of charge to private schools in Weno. At least 1,350 Math textbooks were distributed but since APA could not assume that DOE delivery records were complete, they concluded that it is possible that even more books were distributed. Based on the records that did exist they discovered that private schools had received over $82,000 worth of Math books that were destined for public schools.

Principals and teachers did not have a record of how many textbooks their schools carried. In some instances, teachers were not aware about the location of their textbooks although some of the textbooks could be located within the school premises such as in the principal's office.

Finding two: Schools and students were not held responsible for lost and damaged textbooks

According to DOE's own policy on textbooks "Teachers are responsible to carry out quarterly inspections of textbooks issued to their students to ensure that they are being cared for." Financial responsibility for care of textbooks ultimately falls on the shoulders of principals and teachers in the event that textbooks are missing or damaged. "Paychecks for the teachers (not the principals) will be held by the Department of Education until payment is made."

The school can collect money for damages or loss from the students and must issue a receipt but since DOE was not requiring that schools perform inventories on anything resembling a regular basis, none of the policies were actually in force. With the exception of Southern Namoneas Fefan School which reported that it had more books than DOE thought they had, all of the selected schools reported inventory levels that were lower than the inventories indicated by what distribution forms there were on record.

According to a DOE offi cial, copies of the Chuuk Textbook Policy were distributed to schools in 2007 but no further distribution or reminders occurred. Many school principals and teachers interviewed for the audit said that they were not familiar with the policy and did not recall having received written copies.

Principals reported that they had no idea how much they should charge for lost or damaged books. Some charged as little as $20 for lost books while others charged as much as $70.

Finding three: Due to lack of lesson plans, there is no assurance that curriculum standards are being taught to students

Based on National DOE minimal curriculum standards that Departments of Education in each FSM state must meet, Chuuk DOE developed its own curriculum. Chuuk schools are required to follow that curriculum. The curriculum includes student performance standards in core subject areas of language, Math, science, and social studies.

Chuuk DOE developed a policy that requires all teachers to prepare a standardized lesson plan called the T-Form which according to audit team interviews with DOE officials were to have been prepared by each teacher on a daily basis. The lesson plans should have been reviewed by the principals of each school.

Instead auditors found from their site visits that 88 percent of language arts teachers, 90 percent of science teachers, and 86 percent of social studies teachers did not prepare lesson plans or that the principals did not ensure that lesson plans were consistently or correctly prepared.

Audit interviews revealed that some teachers, having no access to or copy of the approved curriculum, based their lessons on what they knew and what they thought was appropriate and convenient to teach.

"Principals we met did not feel obliged to review the lesson plans and they did not view reviewing lesson plans as a mandatory task required by DOE management. For example, at an elementary school in Faichuuk, the principal admitted that he never checked or enforced lesson plans to be prepared by teachers. In addition, several teachers in other schools told us that lesson plans were not a mandatory requirement by their principal."

FSM OPA may perform a follow up review within the next year to ensure that Chuuk State DOE has taken corrective measures to address all of the wide and varied problems regarding management of Chuuk's text book and instructional materials.

The complete audit can be found at