Ohio Auditor Gets Help From OSU Stats Experts For Data Probe
State board of education members received an update about possible attendance data manipulation at districts across Ohio. WOSU reports the state auditor also encouraged board members to release district report card numbers in light of the investigation. The investigation into whether some school districts retro-actively withdrew and re-enrolled students to obtain a better score on their state report card will not wrap up as early as the state auditor had hoped. Ohio Auditor Dave Yost admits there have been some stumbling blocks during the probe. Yost says itâs been tough to find out exactly who has been taken off the rolls. âThereâs at least the equivalent of an urban school district out there thatâs not counted in anyoneâs grade cards.â? The raw list includes about 88,000 students. And Yost says some of those could be duplicates if a student transferred between districts multiple times. But the trouble is, âWe donât have kidsâ names.â? Thatâs because, in Ohio, students are reported to the state by a number, not a name. âWe have to go to the local school building to pull the identity of that number," he says. And Yost says that has slowed down the investigation which already has logged more than 7,000 hours. The auditorâs office has sought the assistance of Ohio State University statistics experts to develop a risk model that will help move the investigation forward. The model will be based on 100 school districts which have the highest percentage of students who took state aptitude tests and also were withdrawn from the district. âOnce weâve got the model in place and weâve validated it, we should be able to apply it to school buildings and identify those schools that we have a reasonable degree of confidence have no anomalies in their reporting process," he says. The schools with irregularities will be investigated. And Yost would like the model by October so he can expedite inquiries for districts with ballot initiatives in November. âWe think that the people have a right to know whatâs going on in their school district," he says. "And I want to hasten to say, in most places, thereâs probably not going to be an issue.â? Despite the investigation, Yost urged state school board members to release this yearâs district report cards, even though they may be skewed. âThe data was probably bad last year in the same way. And thereâs conceivably a benefit comparing year to year what was going on," he says. Yost says releasing the report cards will not hinder the investigation and actually, in his opinion, would penalize the systems âplaying by the rules.â? State education board members are set to decide Tuesday whether to release any figures. Acting superintendent of public instruction, Michael Sawyers, recommends releasing preliminary scores with a disclaimer stating the numbers are subject to change due to the investigation. âAbsent us doing that, I think weâre giving the false impression to parents and families throughout the state that this is all finished and itâs done and over," Sawyers says. "And theyâre going to say âwhatâs the outcome.â I donât have those results. But to be fair to everyone, I think we should provide the information thatâs readily available.â? But some board members, including Michael Collins, are concerned about the disclaimer. Collins says he fears it would incite questions from parents about whether their school district is involved in the attendance data investigation. But Sawyers argued not releasing anything would be akin to saying schools are guilty of data rigging. State school board president Debe Terhar expects members to pass a resolution to release preliminary report card information. âItâs the most logical conclusion to this. So it would be nice that we pass that," Terhar says. Yost says so far he thinks most schools systems will be clear of any data manipulation. The final investigation will likely be complete after the first of the year.