Ohio schools receive first report cards under new ‘star’ rating system
By: Karen Kasler | Statehouse News Bureau
COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — Report cards for the previous school year—for more than 600 Ohio school districts and for individual buildings—were released for the first time under a new grading system replacing AF letter grades with a at five stars.
The notes are the third effort in a decade to simplify all data presented by the bulletins.
There were six categories for ratings under the AF system. There are now five, although there are no ratings this year in the College, Career, Workforce and Military Readiness category.
And due to learning loss during the pandemic, Chris Woolard of the Ohio Department of Education said there is no overall star rating for districts and schools.
“So you might be a five-star on passing, but a three-star on graduating. It’s a little more nuanced because it’s not that kind of overall summative score,” Woolard said.
He said the low category grades this year would not send any district into academic distress, although “there are other things in terms of improvement requirements from a federal perspective than this data. could actually trigger the identification of a school for improvement requirements or something like that.”
Woolard said there had been some improvement in overcoming the decades-long achievement gap between economically disadvantaged and wealthier students. But he said the pandemic had really hurt the underperforming group.
“You’re going to see areas that are progressing, but that obviously remains a big concern and we know our most vulnerable students have been hit the hardest,” Woolard said. “So I think there is progress, but it’s definitely an area to work on.”
State test scores in English and math improved for all racial and socioeconomic groups, and four-year graduation rates were 87.2 percent for the second year in a row.
But improvements in test scores were not at pre-pandemic levels, as 30% of children missed more than 10% of teaching time last year.
The report cards got high marks from state teachers’ unions.
The Ohio Education Association, the largest teachers’ union, said while there was still work to be done to improve the report card system, it celebrated the changes it asked lawmakers to pass.
“Gone are the misleading FA ratings that gave an incomplete picture of a district’s performance at best. No more draconian penalties for districts that failed to measure up to the cookie-cutter standards of out-of-touch bureaucrats who clung to report card ratings to trigger state takeovers and wrest control from the parents and local voters,” said OAS President Scott DiMauro. said in a statement. “Here to Stay is a commitment to a more accurate and transparent assessment system for Ohio public schools.”
“These report cards demonstrate something that teachers and school staff have observed: our students need more support to fully recover from the pandemic and the disruptions to remote learning over the past few years,” said the Ohio Federation of Teachers President Melissa Cropper in a statement. “While we think the report cards might be more useful if they depended less on standardized test results, they are useful in determining where there are gaps that need to be filled.” But she said they don’t reflect the hard work of educators.
The AF’s letter-grading system had been phased in from 2013 under Governor John Kasich, a Republican. His administration had pushed letter grades both as a simple way to understand what’s going on in schools, but also as a way to raise the standards of K-12 education. Former Superintendent Stan Heffner said he hopes the data will help districts learn from each other and not just be used for “bragging rights.”
But districts were compared to each other, and most schools received lower grades than suggested in the previous report card system, which had seven levels of achievement ranging from “excellent with distinction” to “school emergency.”
It didn’t take long for lawmakers to worry about letter grades. In 2017, former Rep. Mike Duffey, a Republican, proposed changing the ballots, saying they only appear to show more diverse districts getting lower grades. He called the AF’s letter-grading system “total trash” and “fake news” after schools in the town of Worthington in his district achieved the lowest marks since the first use of the letters. letters.
A 2019 study of the report card system took the idea of eliminating letter grades one step further. Last year, a Republican-backed bill to remove letter grades and replace them with the star rating system was passed and signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine.