Craft says Delaware district has state rating it deserves
Amid a wave of doubt that has swept over Columbus schools, Delaware City School District officials assure residents they have not altered school records in any way to get an advantage on their state report card.
After news broke that some Columbus City Schools officials had briefly withdrawn poorly performing students to raise their state report card rankings, at least one Delaware resident has brought Delaware schools' integrity into question.
According to an email written by a Delaware resident and sent to Superintendent Paul Craft and other Delaware County officials, some people have raised concerns that Delaware be among the districts altering records to get an unfair advantage.
Craft said that sort of behavior is so opposite of the way Delaware does business that he is disturbed any licensed educator would even consider it.
"We're not doing any shenanigans," Craft said.
"Our ratings are due to our great teachers, great efforts from students and the support of families, not data manipulation."
Delaware schools last year earned the state's highest rating of "Excellent with Distinction."
Craft said if people are looking for confirmation the state data is accurate, they can look at non-state data that shows the same pattern of growth.
"Our ACT scores, AP scores and TerraNova testing scores have consistently gone up and they are not part of the state ranking," he said.
The letter also indicated district residents approved "yet another levy" after promising no step increases, yet the teachers still were given increases shortly after the levy passed.
Craft said the five-year, 8.3-mill operating levy passed in November was the first levy passed in seven years and the district's cost-per-pupil is still 20 percent below the national average.
"We also did not, nor do we intend to, make up the steps that were frozen," he said.
"In other words, a teacher in the district in their sixth year this year is only being paid as if they have been in the district for five years."
Craft said he also informed all administration and staff that any altering of records is unacceptable and that he would rather have lower ratings and keep the district's honesty and integrity.
"We have not and will not, ever, shade the truth or game the system to make our data look better," he said.
"Doing so would be a disservice to our students, our parents and our community. I said that anyone who felt the need to do so should find another team on which to serve."
Craft said during this year's convocation, the statement was met with applause from district teachers.
"It was so gratifying to hear the whole audience was in favor of honesty," he said. "I was so proud to be on a team that gets it."
Craft said Columbus City Schools officials were receiving financial incentives tied to their state rankings, but Delaware City Schools have no such incentives and therefore have no motivation to alter records.
He said he believes the rankings can be an aid to helping learn what efforts the district needs to take in order to improve what it's doing.
"If you show growth that doesn't match your kids, how do you grow from that?" Craft asked. "It's wrong in terms of what you're doing for your kids. You need an honest assessment."
He said according to an Ohio Department of Education official, 97 percent of districts are not involved in attendance "scrubbing," as the process has been dubbed.
"It's frustrating that the vast majority of districts are put under suspicion because of the actions of a few," Craft said. "For the few who did, I hope the state comes down on them hard."
Craft said he is sure the state will begin to audit attendance records more closely, and he is comfortable with them looking into Delaware.
"They can look at any data any way they want," he said.
"I'm confident we are doing the right thing."
Craft said he is happy with the way Delaware is doing business and is frustrated some residents have doubt that they are doing the right thing.
"I can assure you we haven't altered records," he said.
"We didn't do this; it would never even occur to us.
"We will continue operating with honesty and integrity," Craft said.