Attendance ‘Scrubbing’ Tempts Low-Ranked Schools

School administrators around the country fall victim to the temptation of changing student data to achieve better performance grades.(Photo: WOSU News)
School administrators around the country fall victim to the temptation of changing student data to achieve better performance grades.(Photo: WOSU News)

School administrators around the country are getting into trouble for improperly pulling or adding students to their rosters.

When it involves fixing data, it’s called “scrubbing.” And it’s rife with temptations: rosier district report cards, added funding and sometimes employee bonuses when performance improves.

In Texas, a former superintendent was imprisoned for conspiring to remove low-performing students from classrooms, boosting test averages. Principals in Oklahoma City and St. Louis, Mo., are no longer in their jobs following accusations of attendance manipulation.

In Ohio, a recent state auditor’s investigation identified nine districts that removed poor-performing students from their rolls. More than 70 schools and districts also had attendance reporting errors.

Experts say such cases are easier to identify in the increasingly data-driven world of education, but remain isolated.

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