Clark, Champaign county schools: Report card scores don’t tell full story

Two Clark County schools and one Champaign County school scored a D on their overall report card grade Thursday.

Springfield City Schools, Tecumseh Local Schools and Urbana City Schools all scored a D. No local schools scored an A or an F on the overall grade and three schools — Mechanicsburg, Southeastern and West-Liberty Salem — scored a B on their overall grade.

The other school districts in the counties scored a C for their overall grade.

Clark County and Champaign County Schools received an overall A-F grade on their state report cards. It’s the first time an overall grade has been assigned to Ohio districts in six years. The overall grade is earned through the grades students score in achievement, progress, gap closing, improving at-risk K-3 readers, graduation rate and prepared for success.

LAST YEAR: Clark, Champaign County schools score low on state report cards

Springfield City Schools scored nine F’s, four D’s, one C and one A overall on its report card, according to the Ohio Department of Education.

“Unfortunately, when people look at a report card to judge a school, they often do not look deep enough to understand the tests, the cut scores, or the student populations,” Springfield City Schools Superintendent Bob Hill said. “Thus, using just a report card grade to compare schools is very misleading, unfair, and riddled with bias.”

He said he is seeing improvement in the city district, especially in reading.

“Over the past few years, our poverty rate and our mobility rate have stayed about the same, but the tests used over the past few years have changed,” Hill said. “For instance, Springfield City has focused heavily on improving literacy for our students in grades K-3 and we have made very strong gains in this area, maintaining a component grade of ‘C.’ While we believe that our efforts are paying off, we would like to see the test instrument and the learning standards remain constant to ensure the reliability and validity of the testing data.”

The report card is a marker for all Ohio schools, offering a wide range of data — raw test performance, student growth from year to year, graduation rates and high school success, early-grade literacy, plus how well subgroups of students by race, socioeconomics and disability are closing academic gaps.

Springfield City Schools improved in 13 of 22 tested subjects grade levels including four which were double-digit increases, the scores show. Fewer students tested in the lowest range (limited).

Also, Gap Closing improved in 17 of 30 measured areas, a reflection that the district is improving, the superintendent said.

“Approximately 95 percent of our third-grade students met the Third Grade Reading Guarantee and were promoted,” Hill said.

The test scores are just a snapshot in time and don’t necessarily give accurate data for how good the district is, Hill said.

Other Clark County schools overall scores were as followed: Clark-Shawnee C, Greenon C, Northeastern C, Northwestern C, Southeastern B, Tecumseh D.

The report card grade doesn’t represent the good education students get at the district, Tecumseh Superintendent Paula Crew said.

“The district report card released by the state, while important, is not an accurate reflection of the student learning and progress occurring at Tecumseh Local Schools,” she said. “Of course we care about the results and will continue to work toward achieving goals set by the State of Ohio. Still, the report card results are merely one glimpse of the whole Tecumseh Local picture. District assessments indicate our students are making solid academic gains in all grades, and our staff is committed to continuous improvement.”

Northeastern school officials said the district is also trying to achieve more.

“Our scores are pretty consistent with where we were last year,” Northeastern Assistant Superintendent Shawn Blazer said. “An area that we spent a lot of time looking at is the progress measure. Two years in a row we’ve got an A and that really signifies the amount of work. We are making a year’s worth of gains.”

He said the district continues to try to improve.

“We are continually working with our students and staff to continue to do curriculum revisions and state testing.”

PREVIOUS: State admits error on Springfield’s report card, grad rates

Champaign County schools overall scores were: Graham C, Mechanicsburg B, Triad C, West-Liberty Salem B and Urbana City D.

“Graham earned 2 indicators this year, as compared to 0 the year before,” Graham Superintendent Kirk Koennecke said. “Our Gap Closing measure of growth raised from an F to a D grade. Test scores with significant growth occurred in 11 of 18 tests K-12, especially in 5th grade ELA and science, as well as 9th grade algebra, a key indicator. All three areas had over 10 percent growth from a year ago.”

Graham is focused on preparing students for careers after school, Koennecke said, but the report card doesn’t show that.

“The state has decided not to change high school graduation indicators, or lessen tests, or modify areas of grading for STEM awards, preparedness credits for credentials, internships, job shadowing, until next year, so our data in these areas won’t show up on this report until then,” he said. “Needless to say, we are thrilled at our numbers in these areas.”

Triad Superintendent Vickie Hoffman said her school is working hard to improve every day.

“The 2018 Triad report card indicates a definite strength in Progress,” Hoffman said. “This component of the report card looks at all students and groups of students to see if they are showing at least one year of instructional growth. In all grades and all subgroups, our teachers are meeting the mark of at least one year of growth and many are showing more than one year of growth.”

MORE: Ohio school report card: How to read the report card

The overall A-F grades – the first since “excellent,” “continuous improvement” and other labels were phased out after 2011-12 – is meant to sum up test performance, student growth, graduation rates and more, both for high-performing schools and those that have struggled.

There’s still disagreement over whether the overall grade is a good idea. Some, including Gov. John Kasich, have said the state report card has been too complicated, and giving the simple overall grade is easier for parents to understand.

Opponents of the overall grade have two primary arguments. One is that the state tests that are the basis of the report card don’t accurately measure school quality. Test results have consistently mirrored poverty data — kids in low-income communities tend to score lower, but more of those students also were academically behind as 5-year-olds before the school ever worked with them.

The other argument is that sticking a single label on each school will cause people to gloss over the detailed information in the report card that might give residents a more nuanced view of their schools – percentage of students who take advanced coursework, which subjects and grade levels made the most progress, teacher attendance rate and more.

The Springfield News-Sun brings you complete coverage of the Clark County and Champaign County education system. The Springfield News-Sun has covered how education impacts the economy, poverty in schools and bond issues for the districts.

Understanding the terms

There are six component grades for each district – no overall grade. Here are their descriptions:

Achievement: Grades schools based on their overall scores on state tests. Performance index is weighted 75 percent, and “standards met” is the other 25 percent. There are 31 state exams, and in most cases, schools needed 70-80 percent of students to score proficient for the school to “meet the standard.”

Performance index: A subset of Achievement, this is the most detailed measure of state test performance. Goes deeper than just proficiency, giving more credit for the highest performers and less credit for lowest scorers.

Progress: Judges whether students made one year’s worth of academic growth from last school year. Based on what percentile students score in each year.

Gap closing (AMOs): Reports whether each subgroup of students (by race, economics, disability, etc.) narrowed achievement gaps when compared with the student body as a whole.

Graduation rate: Shows diplomas earned within four or five years of starting ninth grade. The four-year rate measures students who would have normally become the class of 2015. The five-year rate measures the class of 2014.

K-3 Literacy Improvement: Measures what percentage of struggling readers get back on track to proficiency by the third grade. Schools with less than 5 percent of kindergartners scoring below grade level are not graded.

Prepared for Success: Tries to measure how well prepared students are for the future, via ACT/SAT scores, honors diplomas, industry credentials and participation in college credit-bearing programs.

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