June 29, 2016

Mostly clear

State delays schools' annual report cards

An investigation into the controversial attendance reporting practices of three Ohio school districts prompted the state Board of Education to delay the release of the school report cards.

The reports, which generally are released in late August, will not be made public until at least sometime in September.

Randy Stepp

The delay is a direct result of the statewide probe by Auditor Dave Yost that came about after irregular enrollment and attendance practices were discovered in districts in Columbus, Toledo and suburban Cincinnati.

Yost is investigating whether low-performing students were improperly removed from the districts’ rolls to improve school performance rankings.

Acting state Superintendent Michael Sawyers recommended the delay Monday and the state board unanimously voted in agreement.

“The report cards are intended to give an accurate picture of how well schools are doing and they shouldn’t be released with a cloud hanging over their reliability,” Sawyers said in a statement. “Auditor Yost is expected to release online australian casino his findings later in the fall and, until those findings are out and any problems corrected, it would be irresponsible to issue report cards.”

The board will revisit the issue when it meets again Sept. 10 and 11, Sawyers said.

News of the delay is being seen as disappointing to local school officials who have done their part to follow reporting guidelines properly and see the data-rich reports as valuable communication tools.

“The report cards are a good way to hold us accountable,” Medina Schools Superintendent Randy Stepp said. “We perform very well as a school district, but our parents still value the information that is gleamed from the reports every year. There is nothing we have done that is irregular, but I understand the state wants to get a confirmation that there are not other issues out there.”

Typically released toward the end of August, the report cards give parents a snapshot of a school’s performance. Through the report cards, districts also learn how they fare comparable to each other and where they fall on the designation chart — from the top achievement of “excellent with distinction” to the lowest possible, “academic emergency.”

When the report cards were last released, Medina was deemed “excellent” after meeting all 26 performance indicators the state uses to evaluate districts.

John Charlton, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Education, said until the report cards are released, local school officials will not have access to final reports or rankings. The delay will not change the format of the report cards, but residents will know by the time the reports are released if their school districts were called into question.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.