Ohio

Eye on Education

Topics

4640871734_0b40ae8f87_z

Inside the Ohio School Data-Rigging Investigation

Background

In late June 2012, Ohio Auditor of State Dave Yost began investigating whether staff at school districts across Ohio improperly changed student data to make their schools’ performance look better, particularly on state report cards. The auditor’s office is also looking at what role the Ohio Department of Education played in any improper data maniupation.

In October 2012, the FBI launched its own investigation.

As of Oct. 23, Yost had found evidence of “scrubbing” in five districts: Campbell (near Youngstown), Cleveland, Columbus, Marion City and Toledo. The Ohio Department of Education also found that the Lockland district near Cincinnati had engaged in scrubbing.

Yost defined scrubbing as “the practice of removing students from enrollment without lawful reason regardless of the purpose or purported motivation.” The auditor notes, “The term scrubbing does not always imply mal-intent.”

However, Yost has said that “interviews have produced evidence of ‘mal-intent’ behind the changing of student data in some school districts,” the Columbus Dispatch reports. The Dispatch reports that Yost has also said that ”it’s a reasonable conclusion that data was manipulated in Columbus public schools.”

How Common Is It?

Yost initially suggested that what he called “attendance report rigging” might be a systemic problem in Ohio. But in September 2012, he said most schools appear to be following the rules:

“We don’t have any belief that even most schools are involved with this,” he said, but his investigation to date has shown many different ways in which schools have manipulated their attendance data.

Yost also said that any data that was “bad,” or improperly manipulated, in 2011-12 was probably bad in previous years too.

Background

The auditor’s investigation came as a result of a Columbus Dispatch story that reported that the Columbus schools “retroactively alter thousands of student-attendance records at the end of each school year, casting doubt on the accuracy of the district’s state report card.”

The Toledo school district superintendent subsequently told the Toledo Blade that the district had manipulated some students’ attendance data to improve its state report card performance.

And in July, the Ohio Department of Education said that officials in the 600-student Lockland school district near Cincinnati “falsely reported 36 students as withdrawn during the school year, thereby removing them from the district’s state testing results.” After discovering the withdrawals, the department lowered he Lockland district’s state grade from a “B” to a “C.”

The existence of data manipulation isn’t a new thing: In 2008, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that the test scores of thousands of Ohio public-school students were removed from the calculations that make up districts report cards.

School Report Cards

The Ohio Department of Education delayed the release of 2012 school and district report cards due to the the state auditor’s investigation. The department released report cards for traditional public and charter schools and school districts in October, about two months after the report cards’ originally scheduled release.

Latest Posts

Auditor Says Investigation Into School Attendance Data Fraud May Last Into New Year

Ohio Auditor Dave Yost was hoping to wrap up his investigation into attendance rigging at schools statewide well before the November elections. It looks like that won’t happen. Many Ohioans will be asked to vote on school levies this fall, and schools worry that uncertainty surrounding accusations of falsified attendance data may hurt their chances [...]

Marion City, Elgin and Newark Schools Among Those Under State Investigation

Cliff / Flickr The approximately 100 schools under state scrutiny for altering student attendance data include schools in three central Ohio school districts, CentralOhio.com reports. Marion City, Elgin and Newark are all part of the state auditor’s investigation. Ohio Department of Education staff helped investigators in the state auditor’s office identify schools with high numbers of [...]

Let’s Play the Ohio School Attendance Data Rigging Blame Game

Sarah G. / Flickr The fingers of blame are pointing every which way as the investigation into whether Ohio schools are improperly manipulating student attendance data to make their state report cards look better unfolds. Here’s how the blame game is going: The State Auditor has suggested that the Ohio Department of Education could be [...]

What the Ohio 2012 School Report Card Delay Means for Parents, Teachers and Communities

Doug Waldron / Flickr Ohio is delaying the release of school report cards indefinitely pending the outcome of a statewide investigation into whether some schools  manipulated student data to make their state report card grades look better. “The report cards are intended to give an accurate picture of how well schools are doing and they [...]

Up to 100 Ohio Schools Are Potential Targets of Attendance Rigging Investigation

Up to 100 Ohio schools — less than 3 percent of all charter and traditional public schools in the state — may have improperly changed student attendance data to make the school’s state report card look better, an Ohio Department of Education official said yesterday. Acting state Superintendent Michael Sawyers said department staff helped investigators [...]

School Administrators Got Bonuses for Deleting Attendance Data

Some Columbus City Schools administrators who deleted student attendance records to boost their schools’ test scores were rewarded with bonuses, according to The Columbus Dispatch. The Dispatch reports that the district has a “gainsharing” program that rewards school administrators and teachers for boosting attendance and graduation rates as well as test scores. Deleting student absences may boost [...]

State Auditor Dave Yost Tells Columbus School District Employees, “Call Me Maybe”

Ohio Auditor of State Dave Yost has released a video asking Columbus school district employees to call him, maybe, with any information related to falsifying student records, WOSU reports. Maybe you know something about people tampering with student attendance records but don’t know where to turn, Yost suggests. “You haven’t known what to do, who [...]

Ohio Department of Education Considers Trusting School Officials Less, Verifying More

While the State Auditor reviews the attendance records of every school district in Ohio, the Department of Education is reconsidering its data collection techniques. A letter sent by State Auditor Dave Yost to the Ohio Department of Education last week doesn’t exactly accuse officials of contributing to data fudging at Ohio schools, but does suggest [...]

Grades Could Retroactively Drop For Districts Caught Fudging Data

Much like Olympic athletes caught doping whose gold medals are rescinded, the Ohio Department of Education says schools caught rigging their attendance data could see their report card grades drop retroactively. John Charlton, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Education, says, “one of the things that ODE has said already and is willing to do [...]

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »

Economy
Education