If Fort Worth school trustees were looking for a magic blueprint for improving achievement by struggling African-American students, English-language learners and others who aren't meeting state standards, a newly released curriculum audit didn't provide it.But that's because getting all students up to speed is as difficult as it is essential.What the audit did provide is a detailed assessment of how the district's curriculum, planning, organization and use of testing data can be revised to improve teaching and learning and to make more progress toward closing stubborn achievement gaps.During a daylong session Saturday, auditor Holly Kaptain explained to board members that the district's "Curriculum Frameworks," which lay out what teachers are supposed to cover and include sample techniques, provide "the best first step" toward improvement.But she said the documents need refinement, classroom activities need to be more challenging and teachers need to be better-trained and -supported in dealing with students learning at different paces.Administrators told the board they're already moving on the audit recommendations through committees that are meeting regularly and by allocating resources to schools based on the support students need rather than giving all of them the same things."We are putting things in place to improve the academic standards and skills of every single student in this district," Superintendent Walter Dansby said.But he added: "We've got to look at race and class. We've got to talk about it openly and honestly with one another."African-American students, particularly males, still lag behind other racial and ethnic groups, especially in math.One way the district is trying to address that is by increased emphasis on early childhood education."If we can get kids early enough, we can change the way this district looks," Dansby said.Board President T.A. Sims asked what's the solution for getting students who don't get it to the same level as those who do. And, he asked, how does a teacher deal with students learning at three different levels in the same classroom?That's what everyone wants to know, isn't it?Trustees voted in September 2011 to undertake the audit, and most of the $226,800 cost was covered by a $200,000 grant from the Sid Richardson Foundation.The auditors visited numerous schools in January; interviewed teachers, principals, administrators and parents; visited classrooms; and collected samples of student work.Too much of what they saw was work sheets and other passive activities, Kaptain told the board.That was a shortcoming also found in a 2006 curriculum audit. The frameworks were developed after that earlier study showed a disjointed, inconsistent curriculum, driven by textbooks, with objectives set too low.Kaptain said some of what local districts face is state standards that aren't specific enough and textbooks that are designed with standardized tests in mind but "cognitively are very low."The audit said Fort Worth should, among other things:Refocus the District Improvement Plan on a manageable number of priorities.Revise an "inadequately coordinated" organizational structure that inhibits effectiveness.Make campus improvement plans more specific about ways to meet goals. One objective cited was to decrease the percentage of schools with a disproportionate number of African-Americans in special education, but no means for achieving that were listed.Put in writing the procedures for using tests not just to measure student progress but to strengthen curriculum and instruction.Give principals detailed guidance about what they should be looking for when they visit classrooms to observe teachers.Kaptain said the auditors saw "amazing instruction" in some elementaries. And some schools with a high percentage of disadvantaged kids are performing well. But she cautioned, "Some of your principals are real content as long as your kids are compliant."Revise or stop spending money on programs that don't work. "Your budget should be driven by your curriculum priorities," Kaptain said.There is no magic to educational improvement. As the audit rightly pointed out: "Ensuring each child's academic success is irrefutably daunting. It is also unquestionably a goal that cannot be left to chance."