Ohio's School Report Cards Are Out, But Look Very Different This Year

An empty hallway at a middle school in Westerville
An empty hallway at a middle school in Westerville. [Karen Kasler / Statehouse News Bureau]
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The annual state report cards on Ohio’s school districts and buildings are out – and like everything else this strange year, they look very different from the usual updates.

There are no letter grades for either districts or buildings, no grades on individual performance measures, no information on student academic growth or on achievement gaps between groups.

State school superintendent Paolo DeMaria said that’s because federal and state tests were suspended after schools were shut in mid-March.

“The fundamental data that’s included in state report cards is based on those assessments that are taken at the end of the year. So without that, there’s really very skeletal – the legislature directed us to include only those things for which we had data, and that’s not very much," DeMaria said.

The report cards do show a half a point increase in the statewide graduation rate, and more students meeting the “Prepared for Success” measure, such as scoring well on college entrance exams, earning honors diplomas or securing industry recognized credentials.

The limited statistics on the 2020 report cards also show some slight gains for Northeast Ohio's biggest school districts. 

The Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s four-year graduation rate showed slight improvement at 80.1 percent, a nearly two-point jump over 2019.

Meanwhile, Akron Public School’s four-year graduation rate bumped up less than half a point, to 80.2 percent.

As for the category “Prepared for Success,” which looks at how well students are prepared for future opportunities either “through training in a technical field or preparing for work or college,” Akron schools jumped two points to 23.5 percent and CMSD dipped a half percent to 10.4 percent.

Parma City School’s four-year graduation rate was down one point from 2019 to 86.4 percent.  In the Prepared for Success category, however, Parma jumped nearly four points to 50.1 percent.

DeMaria said it’s unclear what the report cards might look like next year, since decisions are still being made on federal and state testing and full-time, in-person learning for all schools.

“The state board of education took a position on changes to the report card,” DeMaria said. “I hope to see continuing dialogue about what the long term report card construction and structure looks like, and I think that will have to take some of these issues into account.”

Gov. Mike DeWine has also said he's open to the idea of making changes to the report cards.

The A-F grading system went into effect in 2012, and critics have called it both too simplistic and too complicated.

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