|Much-awaited state report cards arrive|
|Friday, August 23, 2013 12:00 AM|
BY NANCY SPENCER
and AP reports
The much-awaited new A-F state report cards for school districts were released Thursday. As soon as the results were available on the Ohio Department of Education website, the number of those attempting to access the system for the data proved to be too much and many had to wait to see how their district fared.
Delphos City Schools received an A for meeting 24 of the 24 indicators and a B (85.9 percent) on the Performance Index. The district was “Excellent with Distinction” on the last Report Card and “Excellent” on the year’s before. The district received a pair of As for the graduation rate with 93.2 percent graduating within four years and 95.1 percent graduating within five years.
Newly-hired Superintendent Kevin Wolfe was pleased with the district’s performance.
“The district did very well,” he said. “There have been a lot of cuts in the last five years and this gives credit to the administration, staff, the parents and the kids. They did a great job. We’ve shown we can maintain and show growth.”
Ottoville Local Schools collected an A for achieving all 24 state performance indicators. The performance index score of 89.6 was good enough for a B. The four- and five-year graduation rate of 100 percent earned a pair of As.
“We feel schools need to be accountable; all schools — charter, private, etc. Ottoville did well with the new grade card standards.” Superintendent Scott Mangas said.
He was concerned with the Progress Data and the district’s grade of C.
“We and other high-performing districts will constantly fight this because our students do so well on these tests early on that it is hard to improve any more,” he said. “It’s kind of like two people who run the mile race. Person one runs the mile in four minutes; it is hard to improve time on this if you do so well in your first race. Person two who runs a six-minute mile and has room for improvement and improvement can be made but who would you rather have on your track team?”
Fort Jennings Local Schools met 23 of 24 indicators for an A and a Performance Index score of 86.2 percent was good for a B. The district scored As in both the four-year and five-year graduation rates.
“I feel for the first time this report card is being used Fort Jennings did very well overall,” Superintendent Nick Langhals said.
Langhals was also concerned with his district’s grade of a C on the Progress Data.
“Our district, staff, parents and students have always worked very hard and have set the bar high as can be seen in our last 11 years as an ‘Excellent’ district,” he said. “It’s hard to swallow our lower letter grades in area of Progress Data as our achievement scores are and have been very high. I feel we are starting at the top of the ladder because of the high achievement by our students but at the same time, there are not many rungs left to climb up.”
At Lincolnview, a B was received for meeting 21 of 24 performance indicators and a B for a performance index of 99.7. Graduation rate grades were both As for the district with 98.4 percent graduating within four years and 100 percent graduating within five years.
State Superintendent Richard Ross told reporters ahead of Thursday’s release of the first round of new scores that districts instead scored at all points on the scale.
Ross said the new report cards are intended to allow parents, communities and educators to more plainly see the data about their schools so they can capitalize on strengths and improve on weaknesses.
“The new report card system is not a ‘gotcha.’ And they need to understand that if a school or district gets a lower grade than it expected, that doesn’t necessarily mean students got a poorer education there than they did the year before,” Ross said. “But what it does mean is that the school and district will have to work to meet new, higher expectations.”
The 2013 report cards rate schools and buildings in the first nine of 18 new performance categories. Districts and buildings won’t receive overall letter grades until 2015.
The new letter grades are being applied to traditional public school districts and buildings, community schools, STEM schools, and college preparatory boarding schools. Performance will be assessed in areas including elementary-grade literacy, student academic performance, graduation rates, and college readiness. The phased rollout was intended to prevent schools from seeing sudden drops in their ratings as the state moves to a more rigorous evaluation system. Districts were bracing for the low grades, whatever the reason, to anger parents and businesses in communities that rely on healthy schools for their reputations and property values.
“Some people say it’s unfair to keep moving the performance target for schools,” Ross said. “But I want you to know we are going to keep and need to keep improving for the sake of our children. The world is just moving too fast to have a static goal.”
Ross said meeting tougher goals will eventually serve Ohio well.
“We must have the courage to be honest with ourselves and honest with our communities about where we really stand, so we can work together to improve,” he said. “And believe me, if we do that, we will better understand what we have to do to ensure that our children are qualified to have the jobs and careers they desire.”