Focus on Falsified Education Reports

Of course the state system used to manage information about public schools throughout Ohio should be improved. If criticism by the state’s largest school districts is accurate, the program needs a lot of work.

But let’s not mix apples and oranges in looking at public school effectiveness data, especially given the fact some of the apples are rotten.

The Associated Press reported this week on complaints by the eight largest urban school districts in Ohio, regarding the Educational Management Information System. Concerns include “errors, delays, inconsistencies and a lack of training,” according to the AP.

Many states have centralized education data systems like Ohio’s EMIS. And in some, a substantial number of bugs had to be worked out before the systems performed properly.

But the EMIS or something like it is important to educators, state policymakers, taxpayers and parents. It provides them a database of information about how schools, both individually and in comparison to each other, are performing.

So yes, the EMIS ought to be as error-free and easy to use as possible.

But the urban districts’ complaints came amid a state investigation of school districts, including that in Columbus, knowingly submitting false reports on matters such as student attendance.

Rooting out liars among school administrators is more important than correcting glitches in the EMIS. Taxpayers’ focus on that should not be diverted by gripes about the EMIS.