Ohio School Report Cards Include Stiffer Pass Rates

State report cards are out for Ohio schools even as the state Department of Education continues to tweak them.

One difference already made was to raise the passing grade for performance indicators. Last year, a school passed with 75%, but this year it is up to 80%, causing all districts to take a small hit.

While the report cards do not offer overall grades to schools or districts, they do assign grades over a variety of topics.

District report cards offer several categories, including performance indicators, or how many students passed achievement assessments this year, the graduation rate for four years, how many students learned in one year what they should have learned, as well as the annual measurable objective (AMO) — a measure geared toward closing the achievement gap and helping all children to succeed regardless of race, poverty level or disability. For each category, districts receive a letter grade.

Seven of the 49 districts in central Ohio received all A's and B's, and 10 schools met all the requirements on which the letter grades are based.

Hilliard schools used last year's report to pay close attention to closing the achievement gaps within their schools. The district had received a B for annual measurable objectives.

"We are finding out what students' strengths are quickly and also where their deficiencies are," and then making targeted interventions, said Kimberly Halley, the district's chief academic officer.

Charter schools however, did not fare so well. Almost half, 31 of the 64 charter schools in central Ohio, did not meet any state standards.

Educators use the information presented in order to view topics and material from school to school. CEO of the Cleveland school district Eric Gordon said:

"I expect and hope every school increases every year. We didn't meet that goal. But I can say in what we know about school turnaround we saw what would be predictable in the school turnaround literature which is some significant early wins, such as the reading gains here at John Adams, which affects the performance index, the across the board gains at Collinwood, the graduation rate jumps. But we also saw places where we didn't get the kind of growth that we wanted to see, which is pretty predictable in the first year."

Report cards are used not only throughout the education community but also by parents deciding which school to send their child to. A quick overview of the reports are given on the StateImpact website, while the Department of Education website offers a more in-depth view.

"The goal is to continually challenge the 1.6 million girls and boys in Ohio's classrooms and make sure they are prepared to succeed as they complete school and graduate to college and careers," Richard A. Ross, state superintendent of public instruction, said in a written statement.

This is the second year the new report cards are being used by the state.

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