Auditor: Columbus City School District halfway through mandated reforms following data scandal

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus City School District is halfway through the changes mandated to rectify its 3-year-old data-rigging scandal, according to the state auditor.

Auditor David Yost's office examined Columbus schools' procedures from Feb. 1, 2014 through March 31 to determine how much progress had been made to fix 12 areas the auditor said needed to be addressed, The Columbus Dispatch reported ( ).

A 2014 report disclosed a "culture of deceit" in which administrators manipulated student data to make schools and the district look better on state report cards.

Four former administrators were convicted of crimes relating to the data changes, with dozens more currently under investigation by the Ohio Department of Education.

The report released last week from Yost's office found improvements in documentation supporting letter-grade changes, procedures for grade-level changes and records for home education.

"This is a very large ship in the middle of doing a 180 — they're halfway there," Yost said in a release.

The report said the district still has issues with student-withdrawal information, its individualized programs for special-education students, documentation of student absences and erasures of absences.

Auditors examined 60 students listed as being withdrawn due to dropouts, but found that administrators had provided the wrong reason for withdrawal in eight cases. Auditors also randomly tested 60 of the 9,700 students with disabilities who have individualized education programs, and found one case where a student's program wasn't completed and two cases where teachers weren't informed of the programs. The report stated that the district's absence issues were considered minor.

"We have made significant investments to assure that resources are in place to now maintain this integrity and move forward with a renewed and growing spirit of trust and accountability," Columbus schools Superintendent Dan Good said in a written statement. "We are working with the Office of Internal Audit and our staff to continue identifying process improvements. Our work is not done."

Information from: The Columbus Dispatch,

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