By Michelle Dupler
The South-Western City Schools District rated a “C” grade overall in the newly release state report card on school performance, but district officials say their schools are making progress in the areas that count.
Patrick Callagham, assistant superintendent-curriculum, told the school board at the Aug. 26 meeting that the report card was “overall a mixed bag” with “many things to celebrate.”
But it also offered the district areas for introspection and improvement, particularly with regard to the new measure known as “gap closing” that measures how well a school or district is doing in narrowing the gap in achievements in reading and math and graduation rates among certain student groups.
The district did well in categories for measuring progress for reading and math in grades 4-8, earning an overall “A” grade, meaning students in the district on average got more than a year’s worth of growth in those subjects for 2012/13. The district also earned “A” grades in reading and math progress for students with disabilities and for the lowest-achieving students.
But the district earned an “F” on the gap closing measure, which asks whether every student is succeeding regardless of income, race, culture or disability.
“The new report card definitely confirms the link between income and performance,” board member Cathy Johnson said.
Callagham noted that the state changed the way gap closing is measured in this year’s report card.
This year’s report card contains a new measure called “annual measurable objectives” that measures the academic progress of specific groups of students, such as students with disabilities, students with limited English proficiency, economically disadvantaged students and minorities, against the collective performance of all students in Ohio to determine if there are gaps in academic achievement between the different groups.
Previous report cards used a federal standard called “adequate yearly progress” that tracked students’ progress within those subgroups without the broader comparison.
Superintendent Bill Wise told the board that the district had been showing progress in the academic performance of minorities and economically disadvantaged students under the previous measure.
“If the existing system was in place, the South-Western City Schools District would have earned an excellent rating for the fourth consecutive year,” Wise said.
Wise said he’s seen the state change its report card system numerous times in his years as an educator, and that there’s always a corresponding drop in the district’s rating that results in the district making adjustments to meet the new standard.
Board president Randy Reisling said the district will re-evaluate and make the changes needed to improve its score on the new measure.
“We will rise to the occasion,” Reisling said.
He added that the district performed well in many areas, including the progress ratings on reading and math.
“I think we can look at this and see some great achievements here and a few things we need to work on, Reisling said.
The state report card is available online at www.education.ohio.gov.