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Published: Wednesday, 8/13/2014 - Updated: 2 months ago

Revised state school report cards show data scrubbing had little impact on TPS scores

BY NOLAN ROSENKRANS
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Revised school report cards released by the state this morning for Toledo Public Schools show that data scrubbing had little effect on test scores in 2012 and 2013, and in most cases the revisions actually improved scores for TPS schools.

In 2012, Ohio districts came under scrutiny for a form of data scrubbing, which involved the removal of students from attendance, and thus test-score rolls. In the scrutinized practice, districts broke enrollments for truant students, which under state reporting guidelines meant that their test scores wouldn't count toward district report card grades.

The state auditor investigated, as did the Ohio Department of Education. The education department ultimately recalculated the 2011 report cards for six districts, including TPS, for what it considers improper withdrawals. While some TPS schools saw significant drops in the state ratings because of the 2011 revisions, most schools actually saw scores improve.

That was mirrored in the 2012 and 2013 recalculations, which in most cases brought up scores for TPS schools.

The state said it made more than 100 revisions to district and school report cards on 2012 and 2013 report cards for four districts: Toledo, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Northridge.

“Giving a full and accurate accounting of how students are being educated is vital,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Richard Ross said in a statement. “Actions that mislead the public about the performance of our education system are unacceptable and do a disservice to kids.” 

In 2012, 20 TPS schools had their scores revised. Most of those changes were negligible, and 18 of those schools had scores improve after the state recalculations. The state made revisions to only two TPS schools in 2013, and one of the changes was positive for the district.

TPS administrators had called the revisions of 2011 report cards vindication, and will likely view the new revisions as much the same.

Under the Toledo district's practice, administrators withdrew then re-enrolled students who missed five consecutive unexcused days and 20 days total. The practice could improve test scores and attendance rates on the schools' state report cards because only students who are continuously enrolled in a district are counted on those report cards.

TPS officials have said the practice was a good faith effort to comply with state regulations, and that the state knew, or should have known about TPS data-reporting practices, and that state education officials failed to provide guidance on how the district should properly report data, despite requests for such guidance.

The state told Toledo, Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati school districts earlier this month that its analysis showed no evidence they had committed data scrubbing during the 2013-14 school year.

The only remaining element of the state‘‍s investigation will be through its Office of Professional Conduct for further investigation. School officials found to have manipulated data could lose their educator's license, prohibiting them from teaching in an Ohio public school.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: nrosenkrans@theblade.com, 419-724-6086, or on Twitter @NolanRosenkrans.



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