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OHIO DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION IDENTIFIES KEY CONCERNS WITH EDUCATION MANAGEMENT INFORMATION SYSTEM -- EXCELLENT-DEFICIENT RATING OF SCHOOLS POSTPONED

 COLUMBUS, Ohio, Nov. 25 ~PRNewswire~ -- The Ohio Department of Education announced today that another year is needed to resolve problems with using data from the state's Education Management Information System (EMIS) to determine excellent and deficient schools and districts.
 Therefore, 1991-92 school year data collected through EMIS will not be used to classify schools and districts as excellent or deficient.
 Administrative code rules require the department to make these determinations in the first year after the full implementation of EMIS.
 "After much analysis, we have decided that too many disparities still exist to consider the EMIS data reliable," said Superintendent of Public Instruction Ted Sanders. "It would be absolutely wrong to rate schools on data that, at this point, we know are flawed."
 The state school chief pointed out an additional concern with the excellent-deficient requirement: "In my opinion, we don't have the definitions quite right for excellent and deficient schools and districts. I am not convinced that the data elements we have selected as the key factors for this classification truly represent what schools and districts should be offering as evidence of their excellence.
 "It is unreasonable to expect schools to be rated through a system that we at the department don't fully believe in," Sanders added. "However, we are committed to making the excellent and deficient system work. We will continue to collect EMIS data as we work through our problems. Schools and districts should be held accountable for what they are doing to improve student learning."
 Ohio's EMIS collects data on students, staff and finance.
 Currently, the EMIS data to be used for determining excellence or deficiency are (1) achievement and ability test scores in grades 4, 6, 8, and 10, (2) ninth-grade proficiency test scores, (3) student and staff attendance rates and (4) student dropout rates.
 "It is the department's responsibility to take the lead in making EMIS and the excellent-deficient system work, and work correctly. The EMIS and the Ohio Education Computer Network create a powerful information system for schools and districts," Sanders said.
 Almost all of Ohio's 611 school districts have completed connections to the Ohio Education Computer Network (OECN), which offers services such as connections to the EMIS data and the following:
 -- Electronic mail for immediate communication within districts, with the department, and with other users on compatible systems such as CompuServe, AppleLink, INTERNET, BITNET and OARNET.
 -- State, local and district data, such as pupil-teacher ratios and per-pupil spending figures, that may affect local policy decisions.
 -- Financial accounting programs.
 -- Data on teacher certification and university accreditation.
 -- Word and document processing, spreadsheets, graphics and statistical analyses.
 -- Electronic connections to libraries as far away as Australia and as subject-specific as updates from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
 As part of its EMIS analysis, department staff identified 11 key problems for implementing the system, which follow. Sanders noted that the problems were interdependent, and that fixing one would not alone ensure the success of the EMIS.
 ASSESSMENT OF THE EMIS SITUATION
 1. Multiple vendor student software packages have been created that are not compatible.
 2. The legislation does not authorize the state to collect identifiable student data. As a result, the best the state system can do is edit aggregated data for internal consistency and return for verification or correction.
 3. Software used to aggregate data at the regional level was not field-tested. As a result, additional errors were introduced into the system which resulted in added time and costs to the school districts.
 4. The EMIS Guide is written in a way that is not usable to nontechnical people. As a result, school-level clerks have difficulty entering data and correcting errors when they are identified.
 5. A decision was made to expand data collection beyond that which was required by legislation (e.g. eliminate paper reporting; eliminate redundancy; collect federally-required common core data).
 6. The specification for developing the system lacked precise definition and detail. The software used at the state to edit the aggregated data was inadequate to verify accuracy of the data.
 7. Several A-sites were incapable of meeting the demands of EMIS.
 8. The historical friction between A-sites and B-sites exacerbated the problem of incompatible software packages.
 9. Multiple data bases within the Ohio Department of Education limited the ability to implement the system.
 10. Local, regional and state staff at all levels lack the training necessary to carry out their responsibilities.
 11. The appropriation was insufficient to support staff development, software development and purchase, and hardware purchase to implement the system.
 With Sander's lead, department staff also identified the next steps that must be taken to resolve the key problems.
 ACTION STEPS
 1. Identify the weak A-sites. Give appropriate period of time to correct deficiencies. For those who cannot, suspend license and funding, and reassign districts to other A-sites.
 2. Require vendor software to meet guidelines of required EMIS reporting. Those vendors whose software meets such guidelines will be on an approved list. This list will be made available to school districts wishing to use private software vendors.
 3. The Ohio Department of Education will engage a qualified consultant to study and make recommendations regarding the current organization of the Division of Computer Services and Statistical Reports.
 4. Identify and eliminate superfluous data collection.
 5. The Ohio Department of Education will expand internal and external staff training development related to the implementation of the EMIS.
 6. The Ohio Department of Education will review and revise A-site standards to assure that an appropriate level of current and future services are provided to all districts.
 7. The Ohio Department of Education will revise the standards to allow districts to purchase services from any A-site on a competitive basis.
 8. Equalize payments for servicing B-sites and C-sites.
 9. Seek appropriations that are adequate to implement the system.
 10. Because EMIS has not been fully implemented, the department will not classify schools and districts as excellent or deficient this year.
 -0- 11~25~92
 ~CONTACT: Rebecca Stevens, 614-752-4826, or Andy Qualtire, 614-752-8731, both of the Ohio Department of Education~


CO: Ohio Department of Education ST: Ohio IN: SU:

BM -- CL005 -- 1437 11~25~92 10:11 EST
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Date:Nov 25, 1992
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