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Questionable Practices Found in Five Districts
First Phase of School Attendance Audit Released
Columbus – Auditor of State Dave Yost released today an interim report concerning the review of school attendance practices in Ohio, which showed irregularities and made initial recommendations to improve the system.
In the initial phase of the audit, the Auditor of State’s office selected 100 schools from 47 school districts with the highest number of students that took assessment tests and whose test scores were subsequently “rolled up” to the state, thereby alleviating the district from accountability for student performance.
Five school districts identified in the report were found to have improperly withdrawn students from their enrollment. They are Campbell City School District (Mahoning County), Cleveland Municipal City School District (Cuyahoga County), Columbus City School District (Franklin County), Marion City School District (Marion County), and Toledo Public School District (Lucas County).
Of the initial 100 tested, 21 school buildings in 20 districts have zero attendance issues identified to date, and are considered to be “clean,” while 28 school buildings in 17 districts had errors in attendance reporting that are not believed to be pervasive. The testing of 15 buildings in 6 school districts is not complete yet, and these buildings are declared “indeterminate” at this time.
Also in the first phase, an additional 28 school districts with lower withdrawal rates were tested. Of those districts, 19 are considered “clean” with no issues to date. Nine were found to have errors in reporting, but the errors are not believed to be pervasive.
The report recommends that the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) improve independence of its accountability measures. It also suggests removing report card performance ratings information from the Secure Data Center, thereby reducing the opportunity to manipulate the outcome of report cards. For certain withdrawal codes in the Education Management Information System (EMIS), it is recommended that ODE cross-check the timing of student withdrawals and enrollments. This more in-depth analysis limits the ability for schools to mistakenly misreport or intentionally “scrub” students without ODE inquiry.
Auditor Yost’s audit of attendance practices in Ohio’s schools began when results of an internal audit at Columbus City Schools revealed irregular attendance and enrollment practices and similar allegations surfaced at Toledo Public Schools and Lockland City Schools.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,600 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Dave Yost, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies and promotes transparency in government.