I wrote previously about some problems with the Kentucky School Report Cards. One issue surfaced when I linked to a different page in a school’s report. Suddenly, the school for which the data was being reported changed without warning. I also discussed the misleading nature of bar graphs on one of the report card’s sub-pages.
But, there is at least one more important issue that needs discussion.
As a requirement of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states are required to report school-level financial data beginning with the 2018-19 school year.
Such financial data was only added to the Kentucky School Report Cards fairly recently. This includes added “Financial Transparency” entries in each school’s online report card web pages and a new Excel spreadsheet showing “School Level Spending Per Student.” Both the Excel and the Report Cards contain spending numbers for each school in the commonwealth. But, let me show you some things I found as I started to examine this data using the Excel spreadsheet.
The first surprise concerned the Paris Middle School. This surprise shows up in the Excel spreadsheet and also appears on the home page of Paris Middle’s Kentucky School Report Card.
Let’s see how that report card page looked. To get to this page, I started on the home page for the Kentucky School Report Cards. I clicked in the search window and started typing “Paris Middle School.” Before I had typed in the full name, a pop up saying “Paris Middle School” along with its address appeared. I clicked on this pop up and a new web page opened. This new page was the home web page for Paris Middle’s specific Kentucky School Report Card.
It took a little time for the data to fill in on Paris Middle’s home page, but once the data load was complete, I scrolled to the bottom of the page.
By the way, I first tried this on July 2, 2020, several days after downloading the Excel spreadsheet. I pulled Paris Middle’s school report card up again on July 3, 2020 and took the screen shot that you see below in Figure 1 (with some added notes in red). I tried this again on July 8, 2020, and the same page data loaded.
Check Figure 1 out. According to its home Kentucky School Report Card web page, the Paris Middle School spent an absolutely enormous sum of $1,304,139 per student in 2018-19!
Well, not really.
For some initial clues regarding this massive error, note that right next to the incredible Paris Middle School spending figure, which I circled in red to make it easier to find, you will see the entire Paris Independent School District’s average per pupil expenditure for 2018-19 was only $14,009, almost exactly the same as the Kentucky-wide spending average per student of $14,063.
Clearly, there is no way the middle school spent so much more per student. It is nonsense. Some sort of typo or formula error.
But, that huge per student spending figure got listed on the official report card and in the related Excel spreadsheet. And, this nonsense School Report Card figure remained unchanged as of 2:45 pm on July 8, 2020.
How did this happen? Click the “Read more” link to find out.