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Special Audit of Horizon Science and Noble Academies Released
Columbus – Horizon Science and Noble Academies in Ohio need to put in writing their formal procedures for administering state-mandated tests, according to a special audit released today by Auditor of State Dave Yost. However, the audit found no evidence to support allegations of assessment irregularities.
On June 25, 2014, the Auditor of State’s office received a letter from Ohio Education Association (OEA) President Rebecca Higgins requesting the office examine irregularities involving the administration of annual state-mandated academic performance assessments at the Horizon Science Academy in Dayton. The letter stated an OEA member claimed he witnessed irregularities while working there. In addition, on July 14, 2014, several former teachers at the academy spoke before the state board of education and claimed they had personal knowledge of attendance and testing irregularities.
The Auditor of State’s Special Audit Task Force considered the letter from OEA and initiated a special audit of the 19 Horizon Science and Noble Academies on July 2, 2014. The special audit reviewed records from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014 to evaluate the schools’ policies, procedures and key controls for administering the state-mandated annual assessments and determine whether the schools were complying with state law governing test administration.
The review of policies and written procedures found that the schools did not have written procedures for several test administration aspects, but generally, the schools were able to articulate to auditors reasonably detailed procedures for many of the aspects listed. However, in 36 of 38 instances, the schools did not have those procedures in writing or include them in a comprehensive set of procedures to administer the state tests.
Auditors also found a lack of clear understanding of the specific requirements related to ethical assessment practices and written security and investigation procedures. The schools generally were unable to demonstrate that the staff administering the assessments agreed to follow the schools’ policies and procedures.
The report recommends the schools evaluate their current procedures to ensure they address the areas noted and then write those processes in a set of comprehensive procedures approved by their governing boards.
On April 14, 2015, the Ohio Department of Education appeared before the state board of education and announced that, but for a few matters not yet completed, it was unable to substantiate any of the allegations.
A full copy of this special audit may be accessed online.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,800 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Dave Yost, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies and promotes transparency in government.