This week state auditor Dave Yost announced that his investigation into data scrubbing at Ohio’s schools is complete, and a total of nine districts were found to have altered student attendance data in an attempt to boost their report card scores or cash in on more funding.
But some superintendents dispute the auditor’s findings.
Yost had already named five schools in previous reports.
The four new districts found to have taken part in scrubbing are Canton City Schools, Cincinnati City Schools, Northridge Local Schools in Montgomery County and Winton Woods City Schools in Hamilton County.
Canton City Schools
Canton Schools’ superintendnet Adrian Allison says the situation is more complicated than what auditor’s report presents.
The Canton data being questioned is from the 2010-2011 school year, and involved two schools run as community collaboratives with other districts. Both are for at-risk, often transitory students. They’re students who often don’t fit in traditional schools, nor, says Superintendent Adrian Allison, in the traditional way of coding students for on state reports.
“I am disappointed that the auditor failed to recognize the unique circumstances of these schools, failed to recognize the complex system that is EMIS, but I, without question, am confident that Canton City Schools did not engage in any intentional manipulation of its data.”
Cincinnati City Schools
In his announcement yesterday, Yost singled out Cincinnati schools as having intentionally flouted the law and defied reporting standards. Cincinnati schools superintendent Mary Ronan issued a statement yesterday saying, in part:
Based on the Auditor’s preliminary findings, the majority of “errors” that the Auditor observed at CPS relate to “building to building transfers.” We understand that the Auditor’s staff found an “error” in each case where CPS reported a break in enrollment for a student who withdrew from a CPS school and later enrolled in another CPS school. We respectfully disagree that reporting a break of enrollment or a building to building transfer necessarily constitutes an error in reporting.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reports the district’s school board president doesn’t see a problem with the way the district has been reporting its attendance data:
Cincinnati school board President Eileen Cooper Reed supports the superintendent’s decisions.
“I am satisfied with the way the administration chose to handle it. I’d rather have accurate information than inaccurate,” she said. “We were going to get dinged either way. Either we follow procedures or we inflate numbers.
“The real issue is mobility and how we account for it. It is very difficult with the mobility we had to not have problems.”
Winton Woods City Schools
Winton Woods superintendent Jim Smith told WLWT in Cincinnati he doesn’t think what the auditor found would really have a significant effect on the districts report card grades:
“We really don’t think there’s enough questionable submissions that would change our report card here. It simply would be very unlikely, would be my guess.”
Northridge Local Schools
Northridge Local Schools’ superintendent Dave Jackson told the Dayton Daily News he’s taking the auditor’s investigation seriously, and will work to improve the record keeping in his district:
Superintendent Dave Jackson said he has freely given the auditor access to district files, and there was no attempt made to hide information. Jackson said in a statement Monday he was concerned with the auditor’s findings.
“We will take the information in his final report seriously, and are awaiting the specific details regarding the exceptions that have been identified,” Jackson said. “Once this information is received, we will be better able to evaluate our practices and to modify those practices in order to eliminate errors in the future.”