Akron Superintendent Looks for Gains in Achievements, Cuts in Buildings

David James addresses some 280 business, civic, and education leaders in Akron.
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As the Superintendent of Akron Public Schools awaits the state report cards on schools Thursday, he’s relieved that state officials are cutting back on testing requirements.

But David James would still like the Ohio Department of Education to change the way they do things.   Idestream’s Mark Urycki reports. 



At his annual State of the Schools address David James says the state unfairly tries to compare all districts to each other and fails to hold charter schools accountable

“When we look at how very low performing charters schools can continue to get millions of dollars – that flows from us to lower performing schools – that’s just not fair.”  

James argues the report cards are largely irrelevant because they don’t take into consideration the different situations of each district.

“Many of our kids come to us without any kindergarten experience.  Some come not knowing primary colors, not knowing how to read, not knowing the alphabet.   And out teachers have to take those materials and deal with them. And so what happens is we see a lot of growth and we don’t get a lot of credit for that at times. “

After 8 years at the hel, James says the state fails to account for all the special programs his district sponsors.  APS works with foundations, universities, private companies, and other non-profits on a myriad of programs and projects for its students. 

But some good grades so show up.   James says Akron scored better on state tests than other large urban districts in Ohio, and got an A on the report card measurement of student improvement.

And just last night (Monday) we received a report from the Ohio Department of Education indicating we are not making a year’s growth in a year’s time.  We are actually making MORE than a year’s growth in a year’s time.”

When asked whether that school year should be longer, James agreed, saying he’d like to go year ‘round and even bring back an agriculture tech class with students in school during the growing season.

“It’s hard to fit all of the things we’re asking our teachers and principals to do in our current school calendar.  

Three new Akron schools are expected to open this year with construction beginning on two more. But Superintendent James says in order to right-size the 22,000 pupil district,  some other planned new schools will probably be scrapped.

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