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'Scrubbing' of student attendance records leads to probes of underperforming schools

  • 970f8e7f4a8d29062a0f6a706700ab94.jpg

    Kailey Beard, 15, a sophomore, poses for a photo at Bishop Hartley High School, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, in Columbus, Ohio. Kailey's father John has filed a law suit against Columbus City Schools alleging that attendance rigging has caused Kailey to lose her tuition voucher and her eligibility to play basketball at Bishop Hartley. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete) (The Associated Press)

  • 3532737e4a8e29062a0f6a7067001e5d.jpg

    John Beard, right, of Columbus, Ohio poses for a photo with his 15-year old daughter Kailey Beard, a sophomore at Bishop Hartley High School, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, in Columbus, Ohio. John Beard has filed a law suit against Columbus City Schools alleging attendance rigging has caused Kailey to lose her tuition voucher and her eligibility to play basketball at Bishop Hartley. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete) (The Associated Press)

  • bf6f6acc4a8e29062a0f6a7067006e35.jpg

    John Beard, right, of Columbus, Ohio poses for a photo with his 15-year old daughter Kailey Beard, a sophomore at Bishop Hartley High School, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, in Columbus, Ohio. John Beard has filed a law suit against Columbus City Schools alleging attendance rigging has caused Kailey to lose her tuition voucher and her eligibility to play basketball at Bishop Hartley. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete) (The Associated Press)

  • 4d543d924a8d29062a0f6a706700f7e7.jpg

    Kailey Beard, 15, a sophomore, poses for a photo at Bishop Hartley High School, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, in Columbus, Ohio. Kailey's father John has filed a law suit against Columbus City Schools alleging that attendance rigging has caused Kailey to lose her tuition voucher and her eligibility to play basketball at Bishop Hartley. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete) (The Associated Press)

School administrators around the country are getting into trouble for improperly pulling or adding students to their rosters.

When it involves fixing data, it's called "scrubbing." And it's rife with temptations: rosier district report cards, added funding and sometimes employee bonuses when performance improves.

In Texas, a former superintendent was imprisoned for conspiring to remove low-performing students from classrooms, boosting test averages. Principals in Oklahoma City and St. Louis, Mo., are no longer in their jobs following accusations of attendance manipulation.

In Ohio, a recent state auditor's investigation identified nine districts that removed poor-performing students from their rolls. More than 70 schools and districts also had attendance reporting errors.

Experts say such cases are easier to identify in the increasingly data-driven world of education, but remain isolated.

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