Chicago schools watchdog targets faked school attendance, grades

Lauren Williams's picture
Monday, January 13, 2014

The wrongdoing laid out in the latest report from the inspector general for Chicago Public Schools includes cases of school administrators faking data, a problem the district watchdog said has been a particularly troubling development in recent years.

"We do have a concern about CPS data as evidenced by the cases we had this year," said Jim Sullivan, who's been the district's inspector general for nearly 11 years. "The system has incentivized how performance is evaluated based on data, and much of that data is created and can be manipulated at the school level."

Sullivan's latest annual report, issued earlier this month, revealed that a high school principal and her programmer created "ghost students" to pad enrollment so the school would be eligible for an assistant principal and additional non-teaching staff. Also uncovered was an elementary school principal who changed grades to allow children to graduate.

The IG's report in the past two years has detailed cases of fraudulent applications for free and reduced-price lunch. Principals and assistant principals were found to have falsified data on their own children's forms. The data helped financially strapped schools earn extra state and federal funds.

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