Background: Several environmental audit instruments have been developed for assessing streets, parks and trails, but none for schools. This paper introduces a school audit tool that includes 3 subcomponents: 1) street audit, 2) school site audit, and 3) map audit. It presents the conceptual basis and the development process of this instrument, and the methods and results of the reliability assessments.
Methods: Reliability tests were conducted by 2 trained auditors on 12 study schools (high-low income and urban-suburban-rural settings). Kappa statistics (categorical, factual items) and ICC (Likert-scale, perceptual items) were used to assess a) interrater, b) test-retest, and c) peak vs. off-peak hour reliability tests.
Results: For the interrater reliability test, the average Kappa was 0.839 and the ICC was 0.602. For the test-retest reliability, the average Kappa was 0.903 and the ICC was 0.774. The peak-off peak reliability was 0.801. Rural schools showed the most consistent results in the peak-off peak and test-retest assessments. For interrater tests, urban schools showed the highest ICC, and rural schools showed the highest Kappa.
Conclusions: Most items achieved moderate to high levels of reliabilities in all study schools. With proper training, this audit can be used to assess school environments reliably for research, outreach, and policy-support purposes.