Researchers agree that school culture is an important, yet often overlooked, component of school improvement (Freiberg, 1998; Peterson & Deal, 1998). Wagner and Madsen-Copas (2002) stress the value of culture audits in determining the quality and health of school cultures and recommends using a five step auditing process that includes: interviews, observations, surveys, checklists, and presentations to community stakeholders.
The concept of school culture is further complicated by the multiplicity of racial/ethnic cultures that are typically represented in schools and colleges. For this reason, organizational culture assessments are essential to ensuring the development of cultural competence in schools (Lindsey, Robins, & Terrell, 2003). Culture audits examine how diverse cultural perspectives are reflected in the values and behaviors manifested in the overall school culture (National Center for Cultural Competence, 2005).
Just as a financial audit reveals strengths and gaps in financial procedures and practices to inform strategic plans for financial improvement, a culture audit focuses on how well an organization incorporates perspectives of diverse groups to inform comprehensive school improvement.