After weeks of delay, the State Board of Education has decided to release preliminary report card data on school districts and buildings.
Report cards were supposed to come out weeks ago, but they’ve been held up because Ohio schools are under investigation by the state auditor, who wants to know which ones falsified attendance records. That type of data manipulation that could boost schools’ report card scores, and the State Board of Education had been delaying the release of data that could be incorrect.
Until now, that is.
“I believe from a full transparency piece that if the information is available and people want access to it, why don’t we give them access to the preliminary data,” says Acting Superintendent of Public Instruction, Michael Sawyers.
Sawyers argues that since many media outlets have already requested and will be getting access to the preliminary report card data, the board might as well release it to the general public.“We can add a disclaimer or a qualifier that says this is all subject to further review and try to do something short and simple to explain what’s going on with the auditor of state’s office,” he says. “But I think we have a duty and a responsibility to share what’s available.”
The preliminary data will be released in a spreadsheet around September 30th. It will not include attendance rates, performance index scores, or the overall score of a school or district. That means schools won’t be getting their usual verbal ratings, ranging from “academic emergency” to “excellent with distinction.”
This week Auditor Dave Yost urged the board to release the data, even if some of it may have to be adjusted later on.
“The data was probably bad last year in the same way and there’s conceivably a benefit at least to comparing year-to-year what was going on,” Yost told the Board.
Yost says he may not wrap up his investigation until the New Year, which means the final, official report cards may not come out until later in 2013.
Note: A previous version of this story ran under the headline “School Board Agrees to Release Report Cards.” It has been corrected to note that the Board only agreed to release the raw data, not the final report cards.