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

A mistake in the Springfield City Schools state report card listed its graduation rates too low and school leaders say errors like this happen often.

In the district’s 2016 report card from the Ohio Department of Education, Springfield High School’s four-year graduation rate was listed as about 74 percent. But Springfield Superintendent Dr. Bob Hill said the school was recently notified by the state that the school’s four-year graduation rate was actually about 85 percent in 2016.

“These type of things happen all the time … The report card, when it comes out and the media buzz occurs, it’s not a true reflection of what the district has to offer,” Hill said.

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Report cards are often used as a tool by parents, businesses and others to judge a district’s performance and can impact enrollment or relocation decisions.

The Ohio Department of Education did not return a request for comment about the errors. The state department has also reported that it’s found errors in the career technical high school report cards across Ohio.

More mistakes have been found on the state’s report card for the district, too, he said. The high school’s five-year graduation rate for 2016 has been changed from 88.9 percent to 90.1 percent. That increased Springfield High School’s four-year graduation grade from an F to a C, the five-year graduation rate from a C to a B and the district’s overall graduation rate from an F to a D.

“In reality we know that we’re doing amazing things,” Hill said. “We know that our kids are going to top colleges and that they’re leaving us prepared to work in industry.”

The mistake in calculating the district’s graduation rates was because students at Keifer Alternative Academy were miscounted, he said.

“Unfortunately the educational management information system is a very complex system,” he said, “and especially with graduation rates, it’s even more complex.”

READ MORE Clark County charter schools fail on report cards again

Graduation rates can be especially difficult to count in urban districts, he said, because people move more often.

“I don’t think the current system is good reflection of true graduation rates,” he said.

If a student leaves the Springfield district and isn’t reported at another Ohio or out-of-state school, Hill said that student will be counted as a non-graduate.

The updated report card numbers validated the improvements that teachers like Bill Slagle see everyday.

“We realize it’s very important. It’s how we’re going to be judged,” said Slagle, who teaches history and career readiness at Springfield High School.

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“But at the end of the day,” he said, “we also realize what we do every day to meet our students where they are to take them forward.”

Teachers have worked to build better relationships with students in recent years, Slagle said.

“All the data shows if you can develop those relationships, you have a much better chance at improving,” Slagle said.

The Springfield City School District gets a bad reputation, Springfield High senior Alaina Timberman said, but it’s not deserved.

“The teachers here are great,” she said. “You get the help you need. The counselors are here to help you.”

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