The report cards released today by the Ohio Department of Education should not be seen as a gotcha, although the lower grades of some districts will startle some parents, including those with children in what traditionally are the highest-performing schools.
In a media phone conference held moments before the state’s new interactive website went live, state Superintendent Richard Ross said all districts have room for improvement.
The new report cards available today online will clearly show that no district in the state has received all A’s, just like no district has received all failing grades.
“The whole purpose in this is to get data out to moms, dads, educators, community members and taxpayers so they know exactly how their district is performing and what steps need to be taken to improve,” he said.
Ross said the decision to dump the old grading system, which used designations ranging from excellent with distinction to academic emergency, and to replace it with a more consumer-friendly A through F grading system was motivated by the desire to produce more transparency.
The designations of the past simply were too vague and concealed places where districts were doing a poor job, he said.
Under the old system, more than six out of 10 districts were rated “Excellent” or “Excellent with Distinction,” the highest labels possible. Yet the Ohio Board of Regents reports that 40 percent of Ohio graduates who enter an Ohio public college must take one or more remedial courses before they can do college work.
Many young students also are struggling to read. In 2012, Ohio had 27,000 third-graders who could not read third-grade material.
“This shows us that not every boy and girl in the district with the highest ratings are getting the best education that can be offered,” Ross said.
The new system, a product of the Ohio General Assembly, is being rolled out in phases with today’s release being the first time parents will see the new system.
Parents will see how well students on grade levels fared on the state tests administered in the 2012-13 school year, how students did individually on those same tests, graduation rates and how much students have learned over the course of one school year, collectively as well as in small subgroups.
In total, nine areas in four categories will be graded in this go round, although by the time the full system is implemented in the next two years, districts will be graded in 17 areas in six categories.
But where the old system gave parents a one or two word designation to sum of the overall performance of a district, this new system will not offer parents one overall letter grade to hang their hat on.
Tom Gunlock, vice president of the state Board of Education, said parents and educators should not try to average the nine grades into one overall grade.
“This system is very different and can’t be compared to the previous accountability system. Each area is weighted differently and all the components are not in this first set of measures so trying to come up with an average will give an inaccurate grade and mislead parents,” he said.
Chris Woolard, director of accountability with the Ohio Department of Education, said the new website was created for easy use and interactive navigation. Data can be filtered to reflect districts as well as individual schools.
“This system has an incredible amount of information available at the fingertips of parents and community members,” he said.
Also issued today are the new A through F report cards for career-technical schools and information about the performance of “dropout recovery” community schools.
Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s a summary of the nine categories in which letter grades have been applied as detailed by the Ohio Department of Education:
- Performance indicators show how many students have a minimum, or proficient, level of knowledge.
- Performance index measures the achievement of every student, not just whether they reach “proficient.”
- Value-added: all student measure the year’s growth of the school district
- Value-added: gifted students — looks at a year’s growth for top students in math and reading
- Value-added: students with disabilities –looks at a year’s growth for all students who have an IEP and take the Ohio Achievement Assessment
- Value-added: students in the lowest 20 percent of achievement — looks at growth for all students in the state the performed the lowest on state tests.
- Four-year rate based on graduating within four years of entering ninth grade.
- Five-year rate based on graduating within five years of entering ninth grade.
- Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) measure the academic performance of specific groups of students, such as racial and demographic groups. Each of these groups is compared against the collective performance of all students in Ohio.