Friday, September 4, 2015

Ohio Charter School Data Dump Details 'Grade-Rigging' Scheme

Posted By on Fri, Sep 4, 2015 at 1:51 PM

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Yesterday, some 100,000 pages of documents seared across the news desks of Ohio media outlets, outlining the extent of a "grade-fixing" and data-scrub operation among some charter school operators — those for-profit machines that turn state taxpayer cash into abysmal education performance. 

David Hansen, the former School Choice director for the Education Department, resigned his post in July after admitted tossing out "F" grades for some charter schools in the evaluations of those schools’ overseers. This was done to retain good standing and continue collecting public money.

This week's documents — part of an ongoing public records request from various newspapers — assert that some Ohio Department of Education employees knew of Hansen's scheme. 

The Columbus Dispatch reports that "there was no documentation of their reporting it to higher-ups including state Superintendent Richard A. Ross." And that's a major cog in the quest for accountability in this case. 

One example from the excellent Dispatch reportage thus far:

 In July 2014, Hansen and his team were discussing a still-in-the-works method of evaluating school sponsors, with Hansen apparently frustrated over generating ratings on three different sponsors based on non-academic factors.

“Then we will put them all down as getting 92 and being exemplary in agency commitment and go from there,” Hansen wrote in an email.

Geis responded, “Can we assume you are joking about putting them down as a 92? (Looks of shock from others in the room).”

There was no response from Hansen.

The staff later produced estimated evaluation scores that listed one sponsor as exemplary and two other school sponsors as ineffective.

Kelsey Stephens, a data administration manager, emailed Hansen in March 2015, “These have tables with and without eSchools, the analysis excludes dropout recovery schools. Is this what you’re looking for?”

In response to Hansen's admission and amid subsequent calls for investigation, Kasich said: "What we want [are] top-rated charter schools and when we thought that the numbers weren’t right, Dick Ross talked to [Hansen] and he no longer works for the state.” (Hansen's wife is Beth Hansen, Kasich’s presidential campaign manager.)

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