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Auditor Says Investigation Into School Attendance Data Fraud May Last Into New Year

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Monday, September 10, 2012 at 3:40 PM

State Auditor Dave Yost updates the State Board of Education on the progress of his investigation into the possible manipulation of attendance data at schools statewide.

Ohio Auditor Dave Yost was hoping to wrap up his investigation into attendance rigging at schools statewide well before the November elections.

It looks like that won’t happen.

Many Ohioans will be asked to vote on school levies this fall, and schools worry that uncertainty surrounding accusations of falsified attendance data may hurt their chances at the polls. But state Auditor Yost says he may not complete his investigation until the new year.

Still, Yost says schools with levies on the ballot shouldn't worry.

[audio href="" title="State Auditor Dave Yost says he hopes to complete his investigation into schools with a levy on the ballot by Election Day."]Yost says part of the problem is the way Ohio collects data on students.[/audio]"If there is an election hanging in the outcome, we’re going to do those first and try to complete as much of that work and God willing all of that work in advance of the election," Yost says.

He says his investigation into whether districts falsified attendance records to help boost their school report-card scores is hindered partly by Ohio’s data-reporting system. Ohio is one of three states that still identify students only by a number, not a name, at the state level. That makes it difficult to follow a student’s attendance and testing records between districts.

"We can hardly expect ODE to do an adequate job supervising if they don’t even know the names of the kids involved," Yost says, adding that he hopes the state Board of Education will reconsider that system.

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Yost says he got the impression that the state school board is angry about the allegations of data fraud at districts around the state.

"I don’t believe the Board is angry," says Board President Debe Terhar. "There is concern about what has happened and we want to make sure we get it right. If something needs to be corrected then we get it corrected and let's get it right moving forward so  we can have accuracy and transparency."

Yost and Terhar both urged the board to release this year’s school report card data, which has been held up because of the auditor’s investigation.

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