Revised academic improvement plan approved in Youngstown, reorganizing benchmarks

Local News

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Wednesday evening, the Youngstown School Board approved a revised academic improvement plan, the goal of which is to have the district removed from control of the Academic Distress Commission.

The revisions were needed when Ohio’s interim Superintendent of Schools Stephanie Siddons determined some of the benchmarks were too low. Now, a majority of the board agrees and has a plan that can work.

Before Wednesday’s school board meeting, Jimma McWilson, who has been critical of the board’s academic benchmarks, said he wanted to see the school system’s benchmarks set at 75 percent, or else.

“We’re going to continue to send uneducated people out into the community that are not qualified, with a poor education, to live in a poor community,” McWilson said.

“This plan is to show progress to exit ADC,” said Kim Miller-Smith of the Ohio School Boards Association.

During the meeting, Miller-Smith outlined the changes requested by the state superintendent.

“You have to make 50 percent plus one of these indicators to make your progress to move out of academic distress,” Miller-Smith said.

Some of the changes made from the original plan were to the math benchmarks. In grades K-3, by 2025, the benchmark for students to be proficient was increased from 51 to 64 percent. Then in grades 3-5, from 16 to 33 percent, grades 6-8 from 14 to 33 percent and high school from 65 to 70 percent.

School Board President Ron Shadd said originally, COVID-19 was taken into account.

“So we made a calculated guesstimate on where they thought they may be if we have students that were passed along, but maybe two or three grades level below,” Shadd said.

But the state superintendent wanted the original benchmarks at pre-pandemic levels — thus the need for some revisions.

Miller-Smith and Shadd have been in contact with the state superintendent to make sure the plan includes what she wants. It must be submitted by November 11.

“They have 30 days to return it and approve it. So we expect approval on this next round… total approval,” Miller-Smith said.

It was also noted at the meeting that the Youngstown School District has a support/success plan in place for every student in the system, which is rare. Most school systems only have plans for students who are academically behind.

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