School leaders dismayed by new report cards


Changes in tests, standards lead to lower scores statewide

By Darrell Wacker - dwacker@civitasmedia.com



VANDALIA — Leaders at the Vandalia-Butler City Schools, along with many schools across Ohio, are chafing at the newest version of the school report cards released by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) on Thursday.

The report cards, which have seen significant changes over the past three years, include six new component grades with letter grades – A through F – for each of them. Lower grades are almost universal across Ohio which has caused many superintendents and board of education members to cry foul.

Vandalia-Butler received just one A along with three C’s and two F’s in the latest version of the report card:

  • Achievement Component – C
  • Performance Index (out of 120) – 87.828
  • Progress – C
  • 4-Year Graduation Rate – 97.9%
  • Graduation rate – A
  • K-3 Literacy improvement – F
  • Gap Closing Grade – F
  • Prepared for Success – C

Brad Neavin, Superintendent of the Vandalia-Butler Schools, said the report cards are based on faulty data. The scores are based on the AIR tests that students took in the spring of 2016. This follows the controversial PARCC tests in 2015 and the OAA tests in 2014.

“VBCSD has prided itself on being a data driven district,” said Neavin. “As professionals should, we rely on quantitative information to make the best decisions on how to best serve the needs of our students. The key word here is “rely,” meaning we choose to use reliable and valuable data. Quite simply, the State report card’s data is neither. To say that Ohio’s schools are being “held harmless” in this report card is a thinly veiled mistruth and an insult to Ohio’s citizens who clearly know the difference between an A and an F.”

Neavin pointed to three items from the district’s recent Quality Profile that seem to directly conflict with the report card:

  • 100% of our third grade students who attended our District through the whole year met the requirements for the third grade reading guarantee.
  • The Butler class of 2016 outscored the State average on all four sections of the ACT.
  • 90% of the graduating class is enrolled in a 4-year college, 2-year college, technical school, or military.

Paolo DeMaria, the state’s new school superintendent, said that parents shouldn’t “jump to conclusions” and “can’t compare the achievement measure to last year’s” report cards in a webcast to Ohio news media. “A child’s learning is more than what is tested. We shouldn’t let the report cards define us but at the same time these report cards should inform us.”

The Ohio School Boards Association agreed.

“To truly gauge progress, it’s important to take a holistic look at student and district achievement,” said OSBA President Eric K. Germann, a school board member at Lincolnview Local Schools and Vantage Career Center in Van Wert County. “The report card is just one component. Many other factors, including job, college and military placement, scholarships awarded, the arts and community service must be part of the overall picture of student success.”

Neavin noted that the district has experienced a 44% increase in academic clubs and activities since the 2014-15 school year, has expanded the fine arts program “in direct response to what our local community and parents have expressed they value in educational programming,” and students invest in the community through blood drives, food drives and service to special needs students.

“As your superintendent of schools, I stand fully behind the efforts of our staff and our students and am proud to serve them each and every day,” said Neavin. “Just as importantly, I accept and welcome the opportunity to be held fully accountable to this local community, the stakeholders who best know what is right for their children, and welcome any opportunity to discuss this important topic with them.”

An explanation of each component of the Ohio School Report Cards is provided below by the Ohio Department of Education:

K-3 Literacy

Students who are reading proficiently in third grade are five times more likely to achieve college and career readiness than their nonproficient peers. That’s why it is essential that Ohio’s youngest students who are not on track with their reading receive the help and support they need to be successful. The K-3 Literacy component looks at how successful the school is at getting struggling readers on track to proficiency in third grade and beyond.

Progress

We know that not all children start out at the same place with their learning, but every student should learn and grow throughout the school year. The Progress component of the report card looks closely at the growth that all students are making based on their past performances.

Achievement

Each year, children take state tests in math, English language arts, science and social studies to measure how well they are meeting the expectations of their grade levels. The tests match the content and skills that are taught in the classroom every day and measure real-world skills like critical thinking, problem solving and writing. The Achievement component of the report card represents the number of students who passed the state tests and how well they performed on them.

Gap Closing

Ensuring success for every child means that schools must close the gaps that exist in the achievement of our students that may be based on income, race, ethnicity or disability. The Gap Closing component shows how well schools are meeting the performance expectations for our most vulnerable populations of students in English language arts, math and graduation, so that all of Ohio’s students can be successful.

Graduation Rate

All students should have the support and guidance they need to successfully graduate from high school. The Graduation Rate component of the report card looks at the percent of students who are successfully finishing high school with a diploma in four or five years.

Prepared for Success

The ultimate measure of a school’s quality is the preparedness of its students once they leave. Whether training in a technical field or preparing for work or college, the Prepared for Success component looks at how well prepared Ohio’s students are for all future opportunities.

http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/19/2016/09/web1_Brad-Neavin.jpg
Changes in tests, standards lead to lower scores statewide

By Darrell Wacker

dwacker@civitasmedia.com

Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.

Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.

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