State report cards
Hilliard not sweating delay of data from ODE
The Ohio Department of Education's decision to delay the release of its state report cards will affect the Hilliard City Schools only marginally, according to district officials.
The State Board of Education last week voted to delay the planned Aug. 29 release of the report cards after finding some districts had filed false attendance data, which led to "artificially higher state-testing results," according to the ODE.
The ODE is working with State Auditor Dave Yost to investigate the allegations of tampering against the Columbus City Schools, the Toledo Public Schools and the Lockland School District near Cincinnati. The state school board is expected to meet again in September to consider the release of the report card data.
Hilliard City Schools spokeswoman Amanda Morris said the state report card results provide a baseline for many of the district's decisions, but they are not the sole barometer for measuring the performance of the district or individual students.
"We are anxious for the final results and the student growth data so that we can make better decisions for students," Morris said. "(The district) is about data-driven decision-making and it is difficult to make some decisions without the full spectrum of data.
"(But) we don't rely on a single data point to tell us the complete picture of how a student is doing."
The state report cards are used to evaluate current teaching practices, to determine where improvements are needed and to assess the results of previous adjustments.
Morris said the district will continue to use the preliminary report card results sent to the district in July "to provide a high-quality educational experience" for its approximately 15,600 students.
Hilliard is one of 15 school districts in Ohio to have received an "Excellent with Distinction" rating, the highest possible rating, for four consecutive years, she said.
According to the preliminary results, Hilliard City Schools achieved all 26 state indicators for test scores, graduation rates and attendance rates for the 2011-12 school year, resulting in an "Excellent" preliminary rating. To earn the "with distinction" designation, which the ODE added to its ratings four years ago, districts must meet all the state indicators and must measure "above expected growth" in the value-added rating. That rating is not included on the preliminary reports.
Regarding the data-manipulation scandal surrounding Columbus City Schools and the other districts, the Hilliard district has "multiple checkpoints" to ensure the accuracy of records, Morris said.
"Hilliard relies on accurate data to make good decisions to help students," she said. "We want accurate information so that we can better target our professional development staff ... and support student learning so that can thrive in the 21st century."
Columbus City Schools allegedly withdrew students and re-enrolled them, particularly those who had performed poorly on required standardized testing. Doing so mitigated the negative impact of poor academic performance because the students were newly enrolled, according to records.
Morris said the Hilliard district has a "checks and balances" system between the attendance and guidance offices at district buildings, and all students are registered at a single point.
"The attendance staff takes care of absences and tardiness," she said. "(But) the guidance staff handles student withdrawals. Each side is handled by separate people in part to ensure greater accountability.
"With registration in one area, withdrawals in another area and attendance in a third area, we do not have the ability for someone to adjust attendance figures, withdraw a student and then re-enroll them."