Wednesday, October 17, 2012 at 5:13 PM
The release of school report cards today shows Ohio has more schools getting top grades from the state than in past years.
Sixty-three percent of all school districts got the equivalent of an A or A+ from the state this year, compared to 58 last year.
There are more schools getting the equivalent of D's and F's from the state this year, too: 13 this year, compared to just six the previous year.
And for poor children, the picture is getting worse: Looking just at schools where at least two-thirds of students are from low-income families, there are more schools rated D or lower and fewer schools rated B or higher than last year.
Both Cleveland and Lorain were rated "Academic Emergency," the equivalent of an F, this year. That was a drop for both districts.
Neither of the state's two largest charter schools -- the online schools Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow and Ohio Virtual Academy -- improved their state ratings. Ohio Virtual Academy, in fact, dropped from the equivalent of a B to a C.
And most of the state's "Big 8" urban districts failed to meet a measure called value-added that looks at how much students learned during the school year, regardless of their academic level at the start of the year.
Then there's this: Of Ohio's 20 largest districts and charter schools, only one moved up a state grade. Six dropped a grade. And the rest got the same grade they got last year.
The state ratings are preliminary and may change, the Ohio Department of Education says.
In 2014-15, Ohio students will begin taking harder tests. The scores required to pass those tests will be set by a national group. And the current leadership of Ohio's state Board of Education has said it doesn't plan to lower passing grades to make the tests easier to pass.
This year's report cards still have an asterisk; they're not final. The final report-card data is expected to be published early next year, after the state auditor finishes his investigation into whether some schools falsified student data to improve their grades.
That data will include a projection of how each school might perform under the new, tougher standards. But that projection hasn't been calculated yet, an Ohio Department of Education spokesperson says.
Still, there are bright spots in this year's report cards.
Several districts, including Kettering, Miamisburg, Brookville, Lebanon and Wayne Local, moved up from grades of A last year to A+ this year because they exceeded value-added, meaning students learned more than expected in a given year.
And in Toledo, all-girls and all-boys magnet schools did especially well. Martin Luther King, Jr., Academy for Boys' students are nearly all black and from low-income families. The school got the equivalent of an A this year. The Toledo Blade says that grade shows a "meteoric rise" from the school's F rating two years ago.
As we wrote last year, state report cards are just a starting point for looking at a school or school district's performance. A report card grade is mostly based on state standardized test scores that are crunched in a couple different ways (plus attendance rates and graduation rates):
And it doesn’t tell you about other things that might be important to you in a school, things like whether the school has a strong sense of community, if it teaches skills in other academic and non-academic areas, if your child will feel safe in the school, and so on.
Sure, test scores are important, but report cards are cropped snapshots of school performance:
So it’s a good idea to go beyond the rating and report card if you want to know how your school is doing, or where to send your child to school.
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Source: Ohio Department of Education