‘I refuse to let the report card define us’: Springfield superintendent after ‘F’ grade

Springfield City School District dropped a grade to an ‘F’ overall on state report cards which were released on Thursday morning.

Springfield is one of only four districts in the state to receive an “F” overall grade. The other three districts are Youngstown City in Mahoning County, Jefferson Twp. Local in Montgomery County and East Cleveland City School District in Cuyahoga County.

Springfield also received an “F” in 10 out of 14 categories.

“It is unfortunate that the overall final grade fell from a ‘D’ to an ‘F,’” said Springfield City School District Superintendent Bob Hill. “Due to a slight decrease in the overall performance index, which represents the number of students who passed the state tests at each performance level, from 67.8 to 65.1, the district missed receiving a grade of “D” by 0.8%.”

Each school and district received a report card with an overall A-F grade. More than half of each school’s overall grade depends on how students perform on state tests each spring. Six factors are nearly evenly weighted - achievement, progress and “gap closing,” on state tests, plus graduation rate, improving K-3 reading and a “prepared for success measure based on high school accomplishments.

More: Northwestern best performing school in Clark County on state report cards

In addition to receiving a low overall grade, Springfield also ranked in the bottom 5% of schools in the performance index category.

The performance index captures all levels of student performance on state assessments, according to the Ohio Department of Education. Springfield scored 54.3% in the category.

Springfield also ranked in the bottom 5% of the prepared for success category, receiving an “F” grade.

The prepared for success component reflects how well prepared Ohio’s students are for future opportunities, whether training in a technical field or readiness for work and college, according to ODOE.

Hill pushed back on the grade.

“What does ‘prepared for success’ data mean? It means that our high quality professional educators are providing 225 students with college level work each day at Springfield High School,” Hill said. “Having that many hard working students is a great reflection of the work ethic that we attempt to promote in our students.”

Hill, who has spoken out against the state report card in the past, said one must, “ponder the purpose,” of the report card.

“When the state has to release a 32-page document to the public to attempt to explain the report card, one must ponder the purpose of the instrument and the intent of our state legislature,” Hill said.

When parents think about the Springfield district, Hill said there is a lot more to understand than just their report card grade.

“They must also understand that we serve a diverse student population and we do that well by offering a breadth of options and flexibility to personalize education,” Hill said.

Hill pointed to some things the district focuses on and excels at that are not assessed in the report card, including: computer and robotics classes, development of music and fine arts, building relationships and extracurricular activities.

More: Here is how Champaign County school districts scored on state report cards 

As for improving the district’s grade, Springfield has a, “stakeholder-informed strategic plan in place that addresses four district priorities that includes clearly defined objectives and action steps to achieve them,” Hill said.

“Much work over the last four years has gone into laying the foundation for achieving these priorities; deconstructing Ohio’s Learning Standards, establishing a scope of sequence, selecting rigorous curricular resources, creating assessments to measure progress toward and mastery of the standards and providing the professional development that teachers and staff need to be successful in meeting the district priorities,” Hill said.

The next step in the district’s, “cycle of improvement,” will target instruction at the classroom and building levels through a teaching and learning review developed through a state support team.

State support teams are local and regional Ohio educators with a history in school improvement, preschool and special education, according to their website.

“The Springfield City School District took a calculated risk over the past four years by completely rebuilding a broken system, challenging each other and asking each other to do things that we have never done,” Hill said. “I believe we are experiencing an implementation dip and I am confident that it will pass.”

Hill said as the leader of the district, he refuses to let the report card, “define the district, our dedicated educators and support staff and our students.”

“We are on the right path and we will continue to push forward,” Hill said.

Springfield City School District’s 2018-19 report card grades:

Overall grade: F

Achievement component: F

Performance index percentage: 54.3%

Progress component: D

Gap closing: F

Graduation rate: F

4-year graduation rate: F; 76.7%

5-year graduation rate: F

Improving at-risk K-3 readers component: D

Prepared for success component: F

The Springfield News-Sun is committed to providing coverage to all of Clark and Champaign counties school districts.

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