Springboro schools upset state won’t correct report card errors

State says data was self-reported and appeals window is closed; district says it wasn’t properly notified, and inaccurate data will affect future report cards

Springboro school district officials are calling out the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce for refusing to correct data on their state report card. State officials responded by saying the district self-reported its data and is responsible for filing any appeals on time.

In a letter sent out to parents Thursday afternoon, Springboro Superintendent Carrie Hester said the district informed ODEW of the errors in the “early literacy” component when the state report cards were published on Sept. 14, 2023, which was when the district learned of the error. There are five graded components to the state report card — achievement, progress, gap closing, graduation and early literacy.

While the district still received the highest overall rating of five stars on the report card, it received a three-star rating in early literacy, indicating that 58.6% of its kindergarten students were on track to meet state standards for this component.

“This is inaccurate, and not correct,” Hester said.

She said 838 students in grades K-2, who were all on-track and did not have a Reading Improvement Plan, were not counted by ODE toward the 2022-23 state report card results. She said that was due to an ODE data error. Hester’s letter said the incorrect data showed Springboro only having 75 total kindergarten students and only 58.6% of them on track.

Springboro schools administrators notified ODE about the error last fall. Hester said a representative from ODE’s Office of Data Quality told them “there are no extensions or exceptions made for appeals once they are missed.”

Hester said in the usual process leading up to report card release, if any data errors are large enough to impact a district, they would appear on a “General Issues Data Report.”

“However, no General Issues Data Report was issued by ODE, which would have alerted us to this error before the final data was published,” Hester wrote. She said a representative from ODEW’s Office of Operations told Springboro Nov. 30 that, “Due to system changes this year, I did confirm that the specific gen issues that you had asked about was not generated.”

“Had this report been produced when it should have by ODE, our district would have had time to file an appeal through ODE and would have been recognized as one of only nine school districts in the State of Ohio to receive a 5-Star rating in all five components when report cards were initially released,” Hester said.

She also said that by not correcting the error, ODE is creating incorrect baseline data that will affect Springboro’s report cards the next 2-3 years.

Hester said the district has invested in early literacy work, and that investment has paid off.

“The efforts from our teachers, staff, students, parents, and community deserve to be recognized,” Hester said. “The amount of work our teachers and staff have poured into early literacy for our students has been nothing short of exceptional. We recognize their efforts, and are extremely proud of the work they have accomplished.”

The state has a “watermark” system to label any report cards that are found after the fact to contain data errors. Springboro’s report card on the state website has such a watermark, saying, “Misreported data have impacted this district’s Overall Rating and Early Literacy Component. Please contact the district for more information.”

“The Department has a formal data collection, data appeals, data review, certification, and watermark process to ensure fair, equal, and consistent treatment of all school districts,” said Lacey Snoke, the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce’s chief communications officer. “The data published on the report cards are self-reported by the districts, and it is each district’s responsibility to submit its data accurately and review the data during the review and appeals windows.”

Snoke said the Secure Data Center, which serves as the primary interactive tool for districts to review report card data, displayed the district’s data on two reports. The reports were available and updated twice weekly beginning in April, Snoke said.

“As noted above, if a district discovers a data error after the report card is released, the Department has a process that allows for a district to request a watermark for its report card indicating the data is incorrect. The Springboro report cards include a watermark,” Snoke said.

Walt Davis, an appointed State Board of Education member from Lebanon, said he is working with Paul Craft, the state superintendent of public instruction and Springboro school officials to resolve the issue. Davis said the matter was taken to ODEW Director Stephen Dackin, who said it could be fixed long term.

“I’m partially satisfied,” Davis said. “Springboro is being misrepresented by the current (inaccurate) report card, which is why ODE invented this watermark.”

Davis, who is a farmer and an engineer by profession, said there needs to be an “emergency stop” in the report card system that allows for information to be corrected.

“It seems to me there should be a manual override to make corrections,” he said. “This watermark thing is a patch job covering up a bad situation like lipstick on a pig.”

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