Critics say the scores too closely correlate with students’ household income and show just a small part of a district’s real value. The Ohio Education Association, one of the largest teachers unions in the state and long a critic of the state report card, said Thursday that the new starred system was more informative and less draconian.
Oakwood City Schools ranked eighth-highest in the state in performance index, a measurement of how well districts do on state tests. Jefferson Twp. schools, Trotwood-Madison and Dayton Public Schools all ranked among the bottom seven districts out of the 607 in Ohio.
Centerville, Kettering, Bellbrook-Sugarcreek, Beavercreek and Springboro, along with Oakwood, scored high on several report card indicators, including performance index, graduation rates, K-3 literacy and year-over-year growth.
All of those districts have traditionally scored well on report cards.
Springboro schools, who received five-star ratings in achievement, gap closing, progress and graduation, and one four-star rating for the early literacy component, said the district still plans to continue to improve.
Springboro Superintendent Carrie Hester said the district’s report card was “one part of the story” and encouraged parents to volunteer and remain engaged in the school system for the bigger picture.
“Report cards focus on assessments and what the district has already done, and not how the district plans to make improvements in the future,” Hester said.
Dan Von Handorf, assistant superintendent of Teaching & Learning for Kettering Schools, cited the way the district has used federal COVID-19 funding to bring students back on track for learning.
Doug Cozad, superintendent of Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Schools, said the work of families, teachers and students have all contributed to the high marks for the district.
Other top districts in achievement include Brookville, Bellbrook-Sugarcreek and Beavercreek, all perennial favorites to make the top of the report cards in the area.
Dayton Public Schools
DPS has improved over where the district was in 2020-2021, but still got some of the lowest ratings in the state’s 607 school districts.
The district got one star in achievement, early literacy and graduation, and two stars in progress and gap closing.
DPS noted in a press release the district returned to pre-pandemic levels of gap closing, something the district was working towards. Gap closing measures whether certain subgroups of students (by race, economics, disability, etc.) are meeting performance goals. It also includes chronic absentee data, work with English Language learners and gifted students.
“We are very glad to see significant progress being made on gap closing,” said Dayton Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli. “There is still a lot of work to be done, but we already have effective strategies in place to continue this upward momentum. As we continue to implement the recovery efforts that are proving to be effective, student achievement will continue to increase.”
Other low performers
Trotwood-Madison and Jefferson Twp. were the other local districts that scored in the state’s bottom 10 on performance index.
Reva Cosby, Trotwood’s superintendent, said the district has made many changes this year to the curriculum and will provide extra support to teachers using the district’s federal COVID-19 money, which must be spent by fall 2024.
Cosby said she feels positively about the future.
“Achievement is the top thing we are working on,” Cosby said.
Overall, the state is trending up from last year on key indicators like state tests and graduation rates, noted Chris Woolard, Chief Program Officer for the Ohio Department of Education.
The pandemic has had a huge impact on the state’s education, Woolard said, but there are state-level signs of recovery in the latest report card.
“Achievement results are moving in the right direction across the board,” Woolard said. “There’s a lot of improvement over where we were last year.”
There’s still a lot of work to do, Woolard said.
Aaron Churchill, Ohio research director for the Fordham Institute, agreed but said the state needs to improve the rate of learning recovery from the pandemic. He noted many Ohio students fell far behind in math and have not caught up to pre-pandemic achievement levels yet.
“Ohio cannot afford to leave tens of thousands of students lacking the basic literacy and numeracy skills needed to succeed in life,” Churchill said. “State leaders need to set a faster pace for learning recovery — especially in mathematics — by restoring a focus on core academics and ensuring that schools are using highly effective practices.”
State report cards for schools
State report cards show a wide variety of data for Ohio’s K-12 public school districts. This chart shows schools’ rating on a 1 to 5-star scale for raw achievement on state tests (including performance index), and the progress rating, showing year-over-year improvement.
Source: Ohio Department of Education