Thursday, February 25, 2016

New Ohio Report Card: Too Many Districts Struggle With Most Needy

While the new Ohio report cards continue to show the overall trend of Ohio's public school districts doing a better job overall than Ohio's charter schools, there is troubling data indicating that our districts struggle to improve student achievement for the our most needy students.

When it comes to serving the lowest-performing students, students with disabilities and closing achievement gaps (AMO), Ohio's school districts have about 40% Fs.

And even on student growth, it's feast or famine. The highest percentages for overall value added (student growth) are Fs and As. The disparity is quite stark, with more than 80% of all grades given to school districts being As or Fs. I'm not certain this is in fact the case (I always am suspect about these either-or results), but the data are not encouraging. 

Where districts do very well is graduating students. About 1/2 of all grades given on graduation rates for both 4 and 5 year cohorts are As. That's good.

In addition, there were no Fs given for Performance Index scores -- the amalgamated number created to indicate a district's proficiency success. The percentages of As and Bs are down from previous years, though I think that's a function of the PARCC exam slip everyone suspected would happen. But it didn't cause as much of a drop as other states' experiences.

Again, I caution about reading too much into these data because this year's report cards are fraught with opt-outs, safe harbors, tests we aren't going to be using anymore and incomplete ratings in some categories. And these conclusions are based on the extremely limited testing regime currently used. 

But these data should cause concern that we are not serving kids who need the most help in enough places.

And while I certainly believe that cutting funding for education, as this governor and legislature have done over the last several years hasn't helped districts cope with the needs of their most at-risk kids (for it tends to be the districts with the most need that have the least ability to self fund their interventions), we must confront these issues as a state and community.

It will indeed be interesting to see how Ohio's charter schools fare in these categories overall -- an analysis I will be performing next.

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