New, varying standards with which students are being judged and the third different kind of testing in three straight years resulted in a drop in grades across Ohio in the state’s latest release of school “report cards,” a drop that was largely predicted in advance.
The Ohio School Boards Association said Thursday, “There are concerns about 2016 being the third year in a row with different tests and varying standards.” The association’s statement added, “Districts need adequate time to properly prepare for such transitions.”
Superintendents and educators in Highland County expressed similar sentiments in conversations in recent days leading up to the release of the grades, saying students were tested on subjects and hit with questions for which they were unable to adequately prepare.
In fact, the Associated Press reported that the latest state report cards show that all local schools stayed the same or dropped a letter grade from last year’s grade when it comes to students’ performance on tests and number of students who passed tests.
On Thursday, Hillsboro City Schools Supt. Jim Smith spoke for many other educators when he said that if schools managed to maintain the same scores as last year without dropping, “count yourself fortunate.”
Smith said teachers have been faced with being unable to properly prepare students for testing because of the different tests each year. “And next year it will be totally different again,” he said.
Hillsboro and other districts are doing what they can, including employing instructional coaches for teachers and implementing a plan for the future.
“It’s a good plan,” said Smith. But he added, “There’s no way you can compare” one year to another because of the ever-changing tests.
Still, some local districts performed well in at least one or two measured categories. Fairfield Local was the only Highland County school district to achieve an “A” rating in any category, in regard to graduation rates. Lynchburg-Clay and Bright Local also fared well in that category, both scoring a “B.” Bright Local also scored a “B” for “progress,” the highest grade among county schools in that category.
The report cards for local schools were as follows:
Hillsboro City Schools: Achievement, D; Gap Closing, F; K-3 Literacy, D; Progress, D; Graduation Rate, C; Prepared for Success, D.
Greenfield Exempted Village: Achievement, D; Gap Closing, F; K-3 Literacy, F; Progress, C; Graduation Rate, D; Prepared for Success, D.
Lynchburg-Clay: Achievement, D; Gap Closing, F; K-3 Literacy, D; Progress, D; Graduation Rate, B; Prepared for Success, D.
Fairfield Local: Achievement, C; Gap Closing, F; K-3 Literacy, F; Progress, D; Graduation Rate, A; Prepared for Success, D.
Bright Local: Achievement, D; Gap Closing, F; K-3 Literacy, C; Progress, B; Graduation Rate, B; Prepared for Success, D.
OSBA president Eric K. Germann said Thursday, “To truly gauge progress, it’s important to take a holistic look at student and district achievement. The report card is just one component. Many other factors, including job, college and military placement, scholarships awarded, the arts and community service must be part of the overall picture of student success.”
The OSBA said, “The recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act provides a welcome opportunity for the Ohio Department of Education and state legislature to review and reconsider report cards and measures. OSBA looks forward to working with them to ensure that assessment is fair, equitable and consistent and reporting is clear and concise.”
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.