Thursday, September 12, 2019

New Report Cards tell Similar Story

The new state report cards are out and they tell a lot of the same story they always have, namely Ohio's public school districts outperform Ohio's charter schools in nearly every way. Again, nearly all Ohio school districts lose funding and students to Ohio charter schools. So this isn't just an urban question.

Overall, two-thirds of Ohio school district grades are A, B or C. Two-thirds of Ohio charter school grades are D or F.

Meanwhile, Ohio’s local public school districts receive As in Gap Closing between disadvantaged students and those without disadvantages at three times the rate of Ohio's charter schools, had a 20 percent better rate of As in student growth and even outperformed charter schools in charter schools’ best-performing measure – student growth among the lowest-performing students.

Ohio charter schools had a stunning 93% rate of F grades in meeting performance benchmarks and nearly half of all Ohio charter schools received F grades in closing achievement gaps between the most at-risk students and those who are more advantaged. Perhaps the greatest difference can be seen in Performance Index performance (the one number that encapsulates overall proficiency) where 43% of charter schools received an F grade and only 6 of Ohio’s 608 school districts received an F.

As for school districts, they improved their percentage of As in 8 of 14 graded categories and lowered their rate of Fs in 11 of 14 categories. The biggest area of improvement came in graduation rates and closing achievment gaps. However, their biggest drop off was in student growth where last year nearly 1/2 of all districts received As. This year, only 13 percent did. We'll have to look at that more closely to discover why.

Only 4 districts received overall grades of F this year -- at 0.7%, a far better rate than Ohio charter schools' 28%. However, one of those 4 is Youngstown, which is under the Academic Distress Commission. This means that the district will now have to transition to a mayor-appointed academic distress commission Jan. 1 through a complicated process. So that's another issue that could perhaps be fixed through the apparently fast-moving distress commission reform now being discussed in the Ohio Senate.

But overall, Ohio's districts are improving in far more measures than they are slipping, and the continued strong showing in closing achievement gaps is encouraging.

However, this is where I reiterate again that these report cards are almost singularly reliant on scores earned on standardized, high-stakes tests that are notoriously tied to poverty. So while we're seeing improvements, the fact remains that the poorer your students, the less successful you will appear on this report card. That has always been true and will likley be true as long as tests that are taken for a few days during the year and are great at measuring poverty continue to be used to judge the 180-day educational experiences of children.

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