The Columbus Dispatch reports that two state agencies plan to examine Columbus school district student attendance records after allegations it has been “common practice for schools to withdraw and then re-enroll students with poor attendance records so their potentially poor test scores won’t count:”
State report-card rules say schools must count the test scores of students who have been enrolled consecutively for most of the school year. If they have a break in enrollment during that time, however, the scores and attendance rates don’t count against the school.
The Dispatch also notes that Columbus Superintendent Gene Harris says there are “legitimate reasons for retroactively changing student attendance and enrollment information.”
However, a number of schools nationally have fudged attendance figures — or been accused of doing so — in order to get more public funding or improve the appearance of their performance.
- Fort Worth: “State officials and the Fort Worth school district are investigating reports that administrators at Arlington Heights High School falsified student attendance records to improve the school’s academic rating.” (August 2010)
- Baltimore: “Widespread cheating on state assessment tests has been uncovered at two Baltimore elementary schools, state and district officials are expected to announce today … The investigation also found that [some school] attendance records were altered in 2010 to show that more students had come to the school in the days leading up to testing.” (June 2011)
- St. Louis: “The Missouri auditor’s office is investigating what it calls serious, credible allegations that the St. Louis Public Schools falsified attendance records to get more state money and to appear to comply with the requirements of No Child Left Behind.” (May 2011)
- Ohio: “Taxpayers pay millions of dollars every month to educate tens of thousands of high school students who rarely or never show up for class, part of a growing trend of high absenteeism at privately operated schools … Ohio, hardest hit by the trend, paid $29.9 million for absent students who were enrolled at 47 of these “dropout recovery” schools during the 2006-2007 school year, the most recent year that complete data are available.” (October 2008)