Ohio schools were assigned overall letter grades this Thursday when the Ohio Department of Education released its school report cards.  The letter grade is comprised of 6 components: achievement, gap closing, graduation rate, improving at risk K-3 readers, prepared for success, and progress.  Overall ratings have not been awarded since 2013 when the state adopted new methodologies.  Studies have shown that grading under the new report card system favors higher income districts.  Schools that score poorly for 3 consecutive years are considered to be in “academic distress” and subject to state intervention- subjecting the local superintendent and school board to oversight by a new commission and CEO.  Thus far Youngstown and Lorain have been placed under state takeover with mixed reviews.  After this round of report cards, districts on the watch list for academic distress include Canton, Cleveland, Dayton, Columbus, and Youngstown.
While a simple letter grade may seem straightforward, the standards and method of assigning these overall grades is incredibly complex and highly questionable. One of most obvious flaws?  A district with 80% of students passing a test gets an A for indicators met.  A district with 79% of students passing gets an F.
Doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it?  Ohio needs major reform to K-12 education, including the report card system.  But first it’s leaders must have vision and a commitment for Ohio’s children.
Governor Kasich championed the current report card system and has threatened to veto any bill that seeks to remove the overall grade.  The Kasich administration has also denied K-12 education the full amount of the school funding formula.  In essence, it’s been set aside temporarily to pay for Medicaid expansion and tax cuts. Since 2015, or the last 4 four funding years, education has been shortchanged $2.2 billion.

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