District of Columbia Public Schools:

School Year 1996-97 Enrollment Count Vulnerable to Errors

T-HEHS-98-53: Published: Nov 20, 1997. Publicly Released: Nov 20, 1997.

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Carlotta C. Joyner
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GAO discussed its report on the enrollment count process that the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) used in school year 1996-97, focusing on whether the process appeared sufficient to produce an accurate count.

GAO noted that: (1) even though DCPS changed parts of its enrollment process in school year 1996-97 to address prior criticisms, the process remained flawed; (2) some of the changes increased complexity and work effort but did little to improve the count's credibility; (3) errors, including multiple enrollment records for a single student, remained in the Student Information System (SIS), but DCPS had only limited mechanisms for correcting these errors; (4) DCPS' practice of allowing principals to enroll unlimited out-of-boundary students increased the possibility of multiple enrollment records for one student; (5) DCPS' official enrollment count included categories of students usually excluded from enrollment counts in other districts when the counts are used for funding purposes; (6) problems also persisted in the critical area of residency verification; (7) the pupil accounting system failed to adequately track students; (8) other school districts report that they use several approaches to control errors and to improve the accuracy of their enrollment counts; (9) the District of Columbia School Reform Act of 1995 imposed enrollment count reporting and audit requirements, but the official enrollment count report released for school year 1996-97 did not provide all of the information required by the act; and (10) because the enrollment count will become the basis for funding DCPS, GAO has made several recommendations for improving the DCPS enrollment count.

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