School attendance shenanigans

They say that what's good for the goose is good for the gander, but in the world of public education, that axiom is not always followed. Take, for example, Cleveland Public Schools' recent attendance policy controversy. For the 2004-05 school year, CPS reported an astonishingly low number of excused absences (just 620, while Columbus reported over 300,000 for the same time frame). This, thanks to a new category created in 2002 by CPS ("excused with homework") whereby students were counted present so long as they completed their assignments upon returning to school. State officials mysteriously did not notice the discrepancy. But recent legislative efforts by charter school opponents to fine charter operators and sponsors up to $5,000 for failing to report accurate data suggest that expectations are not always fair for the underdog. Fortunately, after the Cleveland scandal was exposed, the Ohio legislature announced it will hold hearings regarding public school attendance. Hopefully the result will be fair requirements for reliable reporting from both traditional and charter schools. To which Gadfly says, "Bring it on!"

"District staff aimed to skew absence data," by Janet Okoben, The Plain Dealer, October 18, 2005 

 "Schools admit attendance error," by Janet Okoben, The Plain Dealer, October 14, 2005

"Students rarely marked absent," by Janet Okoben, The Plain Dealer, October 6, 2005