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TPS receives good grades on revised report cards

Data scrubbing has little effect on scores

Revised school report cards released by the state Wednesday for Toledo Public Schools show that data scrubbing had little effect on test scores in 2012 and 2013 and, in most cases, the revisions 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 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 saw scores improve.

That was mirrored in the 2012 and 2013 recalculations.

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 said Wednesday that the revised results were not a surprise.

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 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.

Jim Gault, TPS chief academic officer, said the district has been transparent about its data-reporting practices, and ceased its withdrawal policy when the state objected.

“We weren’t trying to game the system,” Mr. Gault said. “We were doing what we thought was allowed by the law.”

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 2013-2014 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.

For information on the report cards for Ohio’s school districts, visit the state Department of Education‘s Web site at: reportcard.education.ohio.gov/​Pages/​Archives.aspx.

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

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