Transformation Alliance Assessing Quality Education in Cleveland

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By Elizabeth Miller 

Cleveland Transformation Alliance assesses the quality of traditional and charter schools in Cleveland and shares those ratings with families so they can make informed school choices.  But at a meeting Monday, the Alliance says it’s struggling to do its job because the state is constantly changing quality standards.

Back in 2012, the Cleveland Plan to improve the city’s schools also created the Transformation Alliance.  Since then, the group has published School Quality Guides and developed an interactive website for families, which includes state report card ratings for Cleveland area schools.

But the standards the Ohio Board of Education uses to rate schools have changed.  Expectations are higher and this year’s students will take a different assessment test than they did last year.

The Transformation Alliance’s Executive Director Piet Van Lier says his group is constantly grappling with how to communicate a school’s quality rating to parents.

"How we measure progress over time is made more challenging by the shifting data because what was considered a quality school by the Alliance when it was first set - that measure of quality no longer exists," said Van Lier.

The newest state report cards say Cleveland schools are faring worse than they were in the past.  Van Lier says he’s not trying to hide that.  "We also don’t want to mask data that may not make Cleveland look good," he said. 

Van Lier the new ratings don’t mean schools are getting worse, just that state standards are becoming more rigorous.  And the Transformation Alliance says it’s working to find a simple way to share that information with Cleveland families. 

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