Some Ohio lawmakers at odds with school report cards

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Ohio school district report cards were barely out Thursday before two state lawmakers called foul

Student desks in a school classroom.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Ohio school district report cards were barely out Thursday before two state lawmakers called foul on how the grades are determined.

State senators Teresa Fedor, D-Toledo, and Tina Maharath, D-Columbus, said the state’s system for district report cards needs an overhaul, even though this is only the second year the Ohio Department of Education has released statewide report cards based on a new grading system.

Ohio’s school report cards measure schools based on six components:

  1. Achievement, which measures student proficiency on state tests;
  2. Progress, which measures student growth based on their past performances;
  3. Gap Closing, which measures performance expectations for vulnerable students;
  4. Improving At-Risk K-3 Readers, which measures reading performance of students by third grade;
  5. Graduation Rate, the percentage of students finishing high school in four or five years;
  6. Prepared for Success, which measures how students are prepared for future opportunities.

The lawmakers believe that the Progress grade, which represents 20 percent of a district’s total grade, is particularly unfair because the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) uses a formula to adjust for the district’s size that penalizes the grade of large school districts.

If that theory proves accurate, it could point to some reasons why bigger districts in the Valley performed poorly on the report cards with Youngstown getting an F and Warren getting a D.

“There are serious flaws in the way we calculate districts’ grades,” said Fedor, who serves as Ranking Member on the Senate Education Committee. “Report cards don’t reflect the quality of the education children receive nor the progress they make. The current measures are not meaningful for the purpose of assessing the district contribution to learning. They penalize large and high-poverty districts, which they threaten with state takeovers. The State recognizes the report card is flawed and depicts a false narrative for our communities and school districts. The legislature has the power to fix these mistakes, and we need to do that immediately.”

The lawmakers also say the grading system is flawed because it compares districts to each other. If a district makes progress, but not as much as the average school district in the state, their grade will be lower and it doesn’t give credit for growth.

School district report cards, among other factors, determine whether a school district is taken over by the state. The Academic Distress Commission took over a few school districts in the state over the past four years, including Youngstown.

Youngstown, East Cleveland and Lorain all received an overall grade of F on the Ohio School Report Cards for three consecutive years. Dayton has received an F grade for two years.

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