Receives AOPTA Award for Six-Month Period - Ended June 30, 2006
Scott Strong, Deputy Auditor General, is pleased to announce that the performance audit of High School Graduation and Dropout Rates, Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI), Department of Management and Budget, is the winner of the Audit Operations Project Team Award (AOPTA) for the six-month period ended June 30, 2006. The audit team consisted of Mary Lowe and Karen Bosworth, supervisors; team members Julius Hampton, Eileen Schneider, Sara Schondelmayer, and former employee Mary Makovic; Laura Hirst, Audit Division Administrator; and Mary Jo Koschay, Audit Manager.
Graduation and dropout rates are used as key indicators by the Legislature; policymakers at the federal, State and local levels; educators; and parents to assess the success of Michigan’s schools. The graduation rate is used by the Michigan Department of Education to determine if a Michigan high school has met adequate yearly progress (AYP). The determination is an important indicator for the high school and can have a significant effect on the school’s and the community’s reputation. The results of this assessment are widely published and provide citizens and parents with an indication of which school districts are more successful. In addition, if a school routinely fails to meet the AYP requirements, it is subject to sanctions, such as providing transportation to another school or offering supplemental services (tutoring).
The findings in this report received much attention from the school community, the Legislature and the media. The issues identify weaknesses in indicators used by many to make decisions about the education of students in Michigan. This report contains 3 material findings and 2 reportable conditions related to the calculation of graduation and dropout rates. The material findings in this report relate to the accuracy of the data used in the calculation. The findings show that the local high schools are not submitting accurate data to CEPI and, as a result, the calculated rates are inaccurate. In addition, CEPI was not completing sufficient analysis to identify the inaccuracies; reported inaccurate data to the federal government; did not develop sufficient edit checks and error reports to ensure that its computer programs were executing properly; and did not provide high schools with sufficient detailed instructions for migrant education students and midterm promotions. CEPI concurred with all of the recommendations and indicated that it will comply with them.
The audit crew worked well as a team, both coordinating a Statewide review of data and processes and conducting testing at 10 high schools. The audit crew worked with over 4 million electronic records to complete the audit. Many of these records contained confidential student data, contributing to the sensitivity of the audit. In addition, they also had to work with complex State and federal requirements for calculating and reporting graduation and dropout dates.
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