Ohio releases new school district report cards


A new state system for grading schools has many Ohio districts explaining poor marks to parents.

The Department of Education released the report cards Thursday, and not a single district aced all of the new evaluations.

The revamped system replaces a six-tier assessment including 'excellent' and 'continuous improvement' ratings with a nine-category evaluation that will be expanded over the new few years. 

The goal is to change the accountability system as part of a national push towards higher standards.

According to the latest school performance index ratings, the districts with schools in the top 30 in the state were Wyoming with five schools, Madeira and Sycamore with two schools, Indian Hill with one school and Mason with one school. In addition, Walnut Hills for Cincinnati Public Schools.

CPS officials took time to explain why some district schools are getting C's, D's and Fs under the new grading system. Superintendent Mary Ronan urged parents not be alarmed if they see lower grades.

She says that doesn't mean schools are worse off than they were the year before under the old system. In fact, Ronan argues the new and old assessments are "apples to oranges," and it's going to take a learning curve for schools to meet the higher standards.

"None of our schools look better under the new grading system," she said.

The new report cards measure a number of components, including achievement, progress, graduation rates, gap closing, K-3 literacy and preparedness for success.

"We have the blueprint. We figured out how to do it on the last report card, so we'll figure out how to meet the new challenges, the new standards and the new accountability system," said Ronan.

At the same time, Ronan says parents should not expect to see the changes happen overnight

"I can't say in one years' time we're going to have tackled all of this because there's just a lot more areas to focus on and the state's looking at it in a different manner," she explained.

Even Walnut Hills High, which ranked in the top 30, received two ‘F's under the new system.

"The old saying, ‘What gets measured gets done' … I'm a firm believer in that, but when the measurement process becomes as political as it has become and so agenda driven it becomes totally invalid," Walnut Hills High School Principal Jeff Brokamp said.

Instead, Brokamp urges parents to look past the letter grades to the product.

"Between the political agendas and the agendas of the well meaning educators who are in the state office and so forth that they're having problems getting together on what we call success so I think it's important that each local community look at what they call success," he argued.

Educators say changing curriculum and conflicting assessments have only added to the confusion. Ronan admitted Thursday she wishes the state would have waited until everything was in sync to put this new system in place.

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