“After reviewing the plan, I believe it is a good first step,” Ross wrote in a Wednesday letter to Academic Distress Commission members and Bill Zelei, commission chairman. “The commission and school district should continue to engage parents and the community while raising expectations of administrators, teachers and students.”
After four straight years of low test scores, the school district was taken over by the unelected commission in April. Lorain and Youngstown are the only Ohio school districts in academic takeover.
Lorain needs to score a C or better on annual state report cards for two out of three straight years to restore local control. Or Ross could disband the commission if he decides Lorain can perform adequately without it.
The plan was approved by the commission and sent to Ross on Aug. 19. Long-term plans include achieving C grades on the performance index and value-added score on the report card in 2015 and 2016.
Annual goals include 11 percent math score increases, 10 percent reading score increases and 13 percent high school graduation rate increases. The graduation increase would be compared to the 2011-12 rate.
Other goals include higher expectations for students in the district where 85 percent of students live in poverty and 87 percent of students entering kindergarten don’t meet minimum state standards. The plan also calls for improving teacher-parent communication and increasing student and teacher attendance.
Ross wrote that 191 students — about 32 percent — scored below proficiency on the annual third-grade reading test. He said students who fail to read at grade level by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out than those who succeed.
Superintendent Tom Tucker, who took over the district in August 2012, said the district changed its federally funded reading program in May to improve scores. He called the approval “huge” noting Youngstown Schools initial recovery plan was sent back for revisions. Tucker said Lorain’s plan has already begun, although the district was prepared to make changes if Ross had requested them.
“We’re excited,” Tucker said. “It’s exactly what we wanted to do and exactly where we wanted to go.”
Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or firstname.lastname@example.org.