The State Board of Education Wednesday released mock report cards using the new letter grade system and 2011-12 data for school districts.
If the state’s new way of grading schools had been in effect when the 2011-12 report cards were released, Canton City’s optimistic-sounding rating of “Continuous Improvement” would have been a slate of C’s, D’s and F’s.
The “F” for Performance Indicators for both Canton and Alliance, means that both districts failed to have 80 percent of students score proficient or better on state tests. An “F” is given to districts with below 50 percent of students scoring proficient.
In the Marlington School District, with its “Excellent with Distinction” rating and an “A” earned for Performance Indicators, parents may be surprised to see a “C” for “Value Added” for gifted students and a “B” for its students with disabilities.
The explanation? The “C” is good. It means those students have had a year’s worth of learning in one year. The “B” means more than a year’s worth of learning.
When the Ohio Board of Education transitions its school report cards from ratings to letter grades, many high performing districts can expect to see lower grades, said Richard A. Ross, Ohio’s Superintendent of Public Instruction.
In a conference call Wednesday with media members, Ross said that the new letter grades will more accurately show where districts and individual school buildings stand.
“This is not a ‘gotcha.’ This is a time to be aspirational and set goals down the road,” he said.
The new way of evaluating schools will eliminate the ratings “Excellent with Distinction,” “Excellent,” “Effective,” “Continuous Improvement,” “Academic Watch,” and Academic Emergency.”
In its place will be letter grades, A through F, scoring six main components, each with several subgroups or measures that also will have letter grades.
The main component headings are Achievement, Progress, Gap Closing, Graduation Rate, K-3 Literacy, and Prepared for Success.
LETTER GRADES MORE ACCURATE?
Canton City Schools Superintendent Adrian Allison said he was not surprised by the letter grades, but “not 100 percent sure they are a reflection of what we do.”
His staff, he said, work to overcome both academic and non-academic barriers.
That said, he continued, “We know we need to do things differently to meet these expectations put before us and for the betterment of our schools.”
The transition is happening now and in August, the new report cards will show letter grades for nine specific measures. However, no letter grade for the six main components will be given until 2015 and no overall letter grade for each district will be give until possibly 2017, though that letter grade will be calculated.
To help districts prepare, the state released composite reports with the letter grades each district and individual district building would have received on the 2011-12 report card had this system been in place. The grades are for the nine measures the state has already identified.
Page 2 of 2 - ODE spokesperson John Charlton said an overall grade is not included because all of the measures that will determine an overall grade have not yet been determined.
Of the changes to note:
• The Graduation Rate will now be calculated under federal guidelines, allowing Ohio to compare itself with other states.
• Under the Performance Index component, the performance indicators will show how many students have a proficient level of knowledge based on standardized test scores. Starting in 2013-14, a school must have 80 percent of its students score proficient or better in tested areas to meet the indicator, as opposed to the previous requirement of 75 percent.
• The Performance Index will measure the achievement of every student, not just whether or not they reach “proficient.” This rewards schools that improve the performance of both the highest and lowest performing students.
Tom Gunlock, Vice President of the State Board of Education, said that for the first time the performance index will include ratings for students with disabilities, those who are economically disadvantaged, and both the lowest academic performers and gifted learners.
“Districts will no longer be able to hide behind its highest performing students,” Gunlock said.
What he meant by that, Charlton explained, is that while these groups have always been counted, the new system will allow the state to look at individual groups and see exactly where a district needs to improve. In the past, he said, a school could do well with three subgroups and not so well with the fourth, and still come out with a high performance index.
“Now, it will be more obvious which area needs more work,” he said.
Under the Progress component, the same value-added index will be used, indicating if a school had a year’s worth of learning, or more or less than a year. It will be divided into four subgroups — all students, gifted students, students with disabilities, and students in the lowest 20 percent of achievement statewide. Those schools that show one year’s worth of growth will earn a “C” grade. To earn an “A,” growth must be two years or greater.
While the simulated grades using last year’s report card data is in no way a prediction of future grades, said Gunlock, it gives districts and parents an idea of what they can expect.
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