Another Cheating Scandal? Ohio Schools Under Investigation
Things are about to get sticky for teachers and administrators in Columbus, Ohio.
The biggest school district in the state is under investigation for "scrubbing" attendance records and altering student grades to improve the district's standings.
One of the schools in the hot seat is Linden-McKinley STEM Academy, which serves children in grades seven through 12.
According to The Columbus Dispatch, in the week following the last day of classes of the 2010-2011 school year, "records show 87 students' final F grades were traded for D's....Thousands of absences were deleted that week, too."
During the 2010-2011 school year, the city received a "continuous improvement" rating—equivalent to a C grade—on the state report card, according to StateImpact Ohio.
If cheating is confirmed, the schools may be faced with a state takeover under an amendment made to the state budget bill this week.
The amendment states, "The Superintendent of Public Instruction may establish an academic distress commission for any school district that is found by the Auditor of State to have knowingly manipulated student data with evidence of intent to deceive."
This academic distress commission would "assist the district for which it was established in improving the district's academic performance."
State takeovers typically happen as a last resort when schools are failing to meet basic education standards.
What's happening in Columbus is not rare. In February of this year, Ohio auditor David Yost found evidence of nine districts that have also scrubbed data. The districts included Cincinnati, Canton, and Toledo.
Across the country, administrators and teachers are under investigation for cheating. Earlier this month, Atlanta Public Schools was thrust into the spotlight after former superintendent Beverly Hall and 34 other school district employees were indicted on charges of running the largest cheating scandal in the nation from 2005 to 2010.
Allegations began in 2005, when the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported there were irregularities in student test scores. In 2011, 178 teachers were named in the cheating scandal, leading most of them to retire.
Administrators in Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and New York City schools have also been investigated for cheating on standardized tests.
Jenny Inglee is a Los Angeles-based journalist and the Education Editor at TakePart. She has taught English in Vietnam and tutors homeless children in Los Angeles. Email Jenny | @jennyinglee | TakePart.com