Education News for 01-18-2013

State Education News

  • Big changes could be coming to transfer rule (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • The word "transfer" appears 58 times in the Ohio High School Athletic Association bylaw covering eligibility…Read more...

  • Teachers get training on how to cope with shooter (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Like tornado and fire drills, lockdowns have become common practice in schools…Read more...

  • Yost seeks periodic head count of students (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Conducting official head counts of schoolchildren several times a year would discourage the “ scrubbing” of student data, the state auditor says…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Southeastern, Piketon schools honored for clean audit reports (Chillicothe Gazette)
  • State Auditor Dave Yost has announced a pair of local school governmental bodies have been presented the Auditor of State Award for clean audit reports…Read more...

  • Local teachers train to handle active shooters (Dayton Daily News)
  • The first group of 200 Ohio teachers were trained on Thursday about how to handle an active shooter situation in a school and hundreds more have signed up for upcoming classes…Read more...

  • Local schools wrestle with cost of security (WKYC)
  • Schools across the country are developing plans to avoid tragedies like Sandy Hook but increased security comes with increased costs…Read more...

  • City schools facing $48 million deficit (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • The city school district is facing a $48 million deficit by 2017 without reductions or additional revenue, according to its five-year forecast…Read more...


  • Ohio searches for that elusive set of tests that does it all (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • The controversy over how and when to test Ohio students has been going on for 20 years, and rather than being settled, it is entering yet another iteration…Read more...

Dispatch must apologize

The school attendance erasures issue continues to be a scandal that isn't. Despite finding nothing more than bureaucratic missteps in his first interim report, the State Auditor has now released a second interim report that has found no evidence of wrongdoing at a further batch of schools.

Just two weeks before school districts across Ohio ask voters for more money, state Auditor Dave Yost reported that his team has not uncovered any more evidence of scrubbing student attendance data.

In the latest update, Yost said auditors examined records at 81 schools in 47 districts and cleared all but eight of the 81. Testing at those eight buildings as well as 15 other buildings from the first interim report is still underway, Yost said. A final report is due sometime around Jan. 1.

Twenty of the 81 schools examined in this round had reporting errors but not enough to suggest scrubbing.
“Odds are most districts are reporting their attendance data accurately and they’re not scrubbing,” Yost said at a press conference Tuesday.

Again, simply some bureaucratic missteps caused by "the sheer complexity of the accountability system" as the Auditor himself describes it, in his conclusion.

This is a far cry from the irresponsible reporting and opinionating that the Columbus Dispatch has engaged in for a number of months now. Time and time again they have failed to wait for the evidence, and instead jumped to conclusions and made inferences that turned out to be incorrect.

Rather than bemoan the slipping away of a potential Pulitzer, they surely thought they were earning, they ought to have some serious introspection on how they could have gotten a story so very wrong and caused Ohio's schools systems so much trouble.

They have slandered and smeared thousands of public school employees up and down the state with their reckless allegations and accusations. They need to apologize and accept responsibility.

Second Interim Report on Student Attendance and Accountability System

Education News for 10-24-2012

State Education News

  • Attendance audit: More 'clean' schools (Cincinnati Enquirer)
  • Ohio Auditor Dave Yost’s office found no evidence of attendance rigging in the second batch of Ohio schools he reviewed as as part of a statewide probe into potential data tampering…Read more...

  • Northeast Ohio schools come up 'clean' in state auditor's attendance review (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • Ohio Auditor Dave Yost's test of school districts with tax requests on the Nov. 6 ballot shows no evidence in Northeast Ohio of "scrubbing,"…Read more...

  • 47 school districts cleared of ‘scrubbing’ (Columbus Dispatch)
  • A second round of auditing found no evidence that more school officials unlawfully “scrubbed” their student data…Read more...

  • Auditor probe fails to turn up more problems (Dayton Daily News)
  • Just two weeks before school districts across Ohio ask voters for more money, state Auditor Dave Yost reported that his team has not uncovered any more evidence…Read more...

  • State inquiry into school districts’ tinkering with data progresses (Toledo Blade)
  • The second phase of a statewide audit into possible manipulation of school attendance data found no new instances of improper “scrubbing.”…Read more...

Local Education News

  • North Baltimore officials pleased with report card (Findlay Courier)
  • Not unlike a proud parent, North Baltimore school officials Tuesday released preliminary data on a district report card from the state…Read more...

  • School District To Offer Cardiac Screenings For High School Athletes (WBNS)
  • The Olentangy Local School District is offering cardiac screenings to high school athletes in an attempt to reduce the number of deaths from undetected heart disorders…Read more...

  • Failure of district’s levy renewal would mean loss of $5.3 million (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • If the 10.4-mill city school district renewal levy doesn’t pass, the district would lose about $5.3 million…Read more...

  • Tutoring program aids Struthers kids (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • Two students sat across from each other in the art room at Struthers Elementary School on Tuesday and contemplated the task before them…Read more...


  • Lima schools need to think change (Lima News)
  • Jill Ackerman sent a strong message last week that the status quo won’t be good enough for Lima City Schools…Read more...

Education News for 10-05-2012

State Education News

  • No local districts cited in state auditor's report (Findlay Courier)
  • The state's auditor on Thursday announced his office has found that five Ohio school districts have used questionable attendance policies and practices…Read more...

  • Toledo schools cited for attendance practices (Toledo Blade)
  • Eight Toledo Public Schools improperly "scrubbed" truant students from attendance rolls, according to a preliminary report…Read more...

  • Parents concerned about manipulated school records (WKYC)
  • The Ohio State Auditor says Cleveland and four other districts in Ohio appear to have manipulated attendance figures -- so that lower scoring students were not counted in State Report Cards…Read more...

  • Probe finds improper enrollment data from Campbell schools (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • The Campbell schools superintendent says the district is cooperating with the state auditor’s office after an investigation revealed improper enrollment records may have influenced state test scores…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Kent schools to implement new safety plan (Akron Beacon Journal)
  • Community leaders, school officials and fire and law enforcement representatives met with parents, students and residents…Read more...

  • Audit isn’t definitive, Harris says (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Columbus schools Superintendent Gene Harris said a critical state audit released yesterday doesn’t substantiate that her schools changed student data to improve their report cards…Read more...

  • State questions Marion City Schools attendance practices (Marion Star)
  • Superintendent James Barney said Marion City Schools did not enroll any students violating its attendance policy to an alternative school to improve its school report card…Read more...

  • Healthier school lunches leave some students hungry (Springfield News-Sun)
  • Many students and parents have reacted strongly to new guidelines for the National School Lunch program mandating calorie limits and more fruits and vegetables, saying the meals are unappealing or leave kids hungry after eating…Read more...

  • CMSD: Audit ‘Does Not Mean We Cheat’ (WJW)
  • The Cleveland Metropolitan School District has responded to an interim report released on Thursday which named the district as one of five that “improperly withdrew students from enrollment” in a way that skewed results of school attendance…Read more...

UPDATED: Auditors Interim Attendance Report Released

The Auditor of State has released his interim report on the school attendance erasures issue.

The first observation from reading this 57 page document, is that very few schools have been completely investigated, and of those that have, little if any wrong doing has been found.

Instead what has been discovered are significant levels of bureaucratic oversights, in many cases excused by the complexity of the system designed by multiple layers of state and federal law.

The practices of Toledo are a good example

After news reports that Columbus CSD altered student attendance data, Toledo CSD publicly announced they too scrubbed attendance data. Toledo CSD officials indicated they understood these practices (i.e., removing students with a high number of absences) to be allowable. AOS met with representatives of Toledo at which time Toledo CSD explained its practice of removing students with five consecutive days of unexcused absences and a total of 20 unexcused absences throughout the school year. Toledo CSD has been using the “5/20” rule for withdrawing students since 2001. However, until 2005, Toledo CSD actively removed these students throughout the school year. In 2005, Toledo CSD lost several high‐level administrators to Cleveland MSD. Toledo CSD subsequently hired new administrators and in 2006 the local report card ratings fell since the “5/20” rule for withdrawing students was no longer in place. After realizing lower report card rankings, Toledo CSD administrators decided to reinstitute the “5/20” rule for withdrawing students in the following school year. However, instead of withdrawing students throughout the school year, Toledo CSD waited until after they received the first report from the Secure Data Center from ODE during the reporting period projecting the district’s report card rankings. Toledo CSD informed AOS that they removed all students that met the 5/20 criteria, regardless of assessment test score results for the affected students. However, AOS is still investigating these claims and will report its results later.

Cleveland's prevalent practices of removing truants also appears to fall into this category of bureaucratic non compliance, rather than "cheating"

Based on the information gathered to date, it appears evident that none or virtually none of the student files previously requested will include necessary supporting documentation related to the attendance event causing the student to be pushed to the State during the 2010‐2011 school year. Additionally, it appears Cleveland MSD potentially removed truant students under code 71 without full completion and documentation of truancy due process.

Again, the auditor has yet to fully complete an investigation of this district, noting "AOS is currently obtaining electronic data in an attempt to determine the impact of Cleveland MSD processes and procedures on accountability reporting and we will report results in a later report."

In Marion, another district the Auditor looked at, again no wrong doing was found

During the course of testing, AOS noted numerous instances of students being automatically transferred to the Marion Digital Academy during the 2010‐11 school year. As such, these students were included on the list of those students being pushed to the State and excluded from District report card results.
AOS identified 46 students transferring to Marion City Digital Academy during the 2010‐2011 school year with no parent or guardian initiation or approval included in Marion CSD’s student files.

Just more bureaucratic mis-steps. And more in Campbell City Schools

AOS tested Memorial High and Campbell Middle Schools at Campbell CSD (Mahoning County), identifying 11 (High School) and 29 (Middle School) students, respectively, that did not have supporting documentation available in the student files to support breaks in enrollment related to the following withdrawal reasons: Verified Medical, Truancy, Expulsion, and Homeschool.

And once again the Auditor notes, "AOS is continuing to investigate these retroactive withdrawals and will report further results later."

Forgive us for being unimpressed both with the how these interim findings are not matching up with a lot of the breathless allegations of "cheating" claimed by some in the media, and also by the sloth like progress being made by the Auditor of state.

It appears that the vast number of attendance erasures might in fact be legitimate, but simply not supported by documentation, as districts had poor policies and procedures in place to record and store the documentation. Furthermore, ODE, despite it's claims to the contrary have not been clear on what is required

The results of our statewide assessment indicate that there are a number of areas requiring centralized, improved ODE guidance and immediate clarification. ODE should use this report as a management tool to identify critical Accountability systems and weaknesses requiring enhancement to aid Ohio schools in Accountability determinations and reporting.

The Auditors list of recommendations is replete with calls for legislative changes, indicating that the current system is inadequate, and not the fault of districts

To strengthen and foster consistency in the reporting of approved homeschooling, ODE should consider requesting the General Assembly to amend the authorities and powers of ESC’s to approve homeschooling for all Ohio school districts, including city and exempt village districts.
The General Assembly should provide authority for ODE to collect personally identifiable information, such as student names, to enable ODE to work cooperatively with the Ohio Juvenile Court system and DYS tracking and reporting truant students.
The General Assembly should establish a single statewide student information system so that all data is uniform, uniformly reported, and accessible for data mining. Alternatively if such is not feasible the General Assembly should require ODE to approve the Student Information System used by each district in the state to ensure it meets requirements.
EMIS monitoring functions should be performed by an independent agency or commission appointed by the General Assembly.

Not mentioned anywhere in this report - how any of this has adversely affected student education. Neither does the Auditor indicate what the cost might be both to districts and to the state if full compliance and his recommendations were implemented.


Acting State Superintendent Sawyer just released the following statement

Good morning:

As anticipated from our communication yesterday, here is a link to the Auditor of State’s Interim Report on Student Attendance Data and the Accountability System released this morning. The report also is available here on our Quick Links page. We are pleased that the report shows that most districts visited to date by the auditor’s staff are compliant with legal and reporting requirements. However, as the report indicates, the investigation is ongoing and the Auditor’s Office will continue to review attendance data for all schools. Regardless of your participation to date in the ongoing investigation, I encourage you to read the interim report to reinforce the attendance policies, administrative guidelines and reporting requirements required by your school or district.

Next Monday during their regularly scheduled meeting, the State Board of Education will hear a report from the Auditor of State’s Office, which will result in discussion related to the impact of the interim report findings and the Local Report Cards. I will update you next week on the status of the Local Report Cards and access to the Secure Data Center.

Thank you,

Michael L. Sawyers
Acting Superintendent of Public Instruction

Final Interim ADM Report 10052012

Education News for 10-04-2012

State Education News

  • Auditor reports altered school records (Columbus Dispatch)
  • The first 10 Columbus schools examined so far by state auditors all show evidence of “scrubbing” student data, potentially to improve their state report-card standing…Read more...

  • Ohio Teacher of the Year: Top teacher is inspiration (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Mike Morbitzer has been in on the surprise before when his wife, Carole, won awards for teaching and volunteer efforts…Read more...

  • State Auditor To Release First Results Of School Attendance Scandal Audit (WBNS)
  • State Auditor Dave Yost said that he plans to release the results of the first 100 schools audited as part of a statewide school attendance scandal involving the Columbus City School district…Read more...

  • Chaney STEM gets statewide attention for accomplishments (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • While the Youngstown City School District still has a way to go before it earns an excellent rating on the state report card, it can revel in the fact that the Chaney Science…Read more...

News from ODE

  • What's the Latest on Teacher Evaluation? (National Council on)
  • With so much change happening in states across the country when it comes to the policies governing teacher evaluation and tenure, it can be hard to keep up with it all. But fear not: we did the tracking so you don't have to…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Nurses group wants schools to be able to act quickly in food allergy emergencies (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
  • When a child suffers a severe allergic reaction, treatment must be delivered quickly. If not, the child could go into a coma or even die…Read more...

  • Students get early start at teaching (Mansfield News Journal)
  • First-year education majors at Ashland University are teaming with middle-schoolers from Ashland City Schools to promote leadership, mentorship…Read more...

  • District disputes feds harassment claims (Springfield News-Sun)
  • Northeastern Local Schools disputed Wednesday a federal statement that accused the district of failing to adequately respond to and prevent racial harassment of black students…Read more...

  • Ledgemont School District's finances (Willoughby News Herald)
  • An official from the Ohio Department of Education will come to Thompson Township Monday to discuss the Ledgemont School District's financial situation…Read more...

  • A standout in the Cleveland schools (WKYC)
  • As we move closer to the election, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District waits to learn whether voters will say "yes" or "no" to a sweeping change…Read more...


  • Skewed priorities (Columbus Dispatch)
  • An interim report from Ohio Auditor Dave Yost confirms that officials at 10 Columbus middle schools altered school-attendance records without explanation, bolstering suspicions…Read more...

  • Education needs to see results (Marietta Times)
  • For many years, the name of the game for public colleges and universities has been FTE - that is, the number of "full-time equivalent" students they have enrolled…Read more...