By Kantele Franko
COLUMBUS (AP) — Ohio will recalculate report cards for four large school districts for 2011-12 and scrutinize their attendance data for the following year in expanding an investigation into whether schools improperly altered data that affects ratings, the state Department of Education said Wednesday.
Evidence of earlier data alterations prompted further review of 2012-13, department spokesman John Charlton said.
Report cards will be reissued for the Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo districts for 2011-12.
Columbus also will have its 2010-11 report card reissued. New report cards for that year were issued earlier for schools in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Toledo and three more districts that were found to have changed attendance data to improve performance ratings.
The Department of Education said it also is investigating whether any licensed educators were involved with improper data reporting and should face disciplinary action.
“Misreporting of attendance data or ‘scrubbing’ jeopardizes the entire accountability system in Ohio and will not be tolerated,” state Superintendent Richard Ross said in a statement.
The Columbus district supports the state review, is cooperating and hasn’t been informed of whether changes may be made because of the recalculation, the Columbus superintendent said in a statement.
For Cleveland, the recalculation doesn’t alter the overall district rating, and the 2012-13 review will probably reflect changes made by the district at the state’s recommendation after an audit, a district spokeswoman said in an email.
Spokeswomen for Cincinnati and Toledo schools didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment late Wednesday afternoon.
State Auditor Dave Yost said he’d be appalled if the state finds school data was altered even after his office began looking into the issue in mid-2012.
“You would think, just as a matter of propriety, if you’re aware of an investigation ongoing into something, that you would halt the practice until you were told it was OK or learned differently,” he said.
Among the smaller districts that had problems identified, a new 2011-12 report card also will be issued for Northridge Local School District near Dayton because of misreported data. But the state doesn’t plan to include that district in the inquiry regarding 2012-13 data because only two student records would have potentially been involved.
The Campbell and Winton Woods districts are required to submit plans to ensure the reporting problem doesn’t occur again but will not have recalculated report cards because no further evidence of misreporting was found, the Department of Education said.