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School officials blast new state report card

Education officials critical of 'flawed components'

by Eric Marotta | Editor Published: September 20, 2016 12:00 AM
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Nordonia Hills -- Superintendent Joe Clark said the school district should be proud it received an "A" in one measure of the progress students made in the 2015-16 school year, but like many other area superintendents, Clark is criticizing this year's state report card released by the Ohio Department of Education.

"It would be great if we could have two years in a row where we're judged on the same test -- that would be nice," Clark said. "I can hit any target you set; just stop moving the target."

The Ohio School Boards Association agrees. In a statement Sept. 15, the group said that "there are concerns about 2016 being the third year in a row with different tests and varying standards. Districts need adequate time to properly prepare for such transitions."

The ODE released the 2015-16 state report cards on Sept. 15. A department spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Nordonia Hills City Schools report card includes six graded areas: Achievement (C); Gap Closing (F); K-3 Literacy (D); Progress (B); Graduation Rate (A); and Prepared for Success (C).

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The entire 31-page report card for Nordonia Hills can be found at http://reportcard.education.ohio.gov.

The grade that Clark said the district should be particularly proud of is the "A" for the overall Value-Added score for students, one of the four components of the district's Progress grade.

"This means that Nordonia students made significantly more than a year's worth of progress for the year they spent in school," Clark said.

While gifted students had a value-added score of "C," the lowest 20 percent of students and students with disabilities also earned value-added scores of "A."

Clark said the district's Gap Closing score of "F" -- based on the district's "Annual Measurable Objective" in reading, math and graduation rates -- "makes zero sense."

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The measure shows how well schools meet performance expectations for vulnerable populations of students. Nordonia Hills went from 82.6 percent last year to 48.5 percent on the 2015-16 report card.

"It's a fiasco," Clark said. "Our district, in which we have the same teachers and the same students and the same curriculum and we've been at the highest levels possible, are all of a sudden scoring 'F' in AMO, which makes zero sense. It's all a function of them changing the test year after year, after year, making the test more difficult and then raising the scores for passage rates."

Clark said the district's score in K-3 Literacy score, which went from 52 percent last year to 25 percent this year, is similarly flawed in that the tests were changed and standards set higher.

The Akron Area School Superintendent's Association in a Sept. 15 statement cited the K-3 literacy score as an example of the report cards being "seriously flawed," stating the test incorporated reading and writing, where it only included reading the previous year.

"This measure is flawed in that it calculates a rate based on a reading score, to a reading and writing score," the association stated.

"It is difficult to utilize a report card that is a constantly changing document, made up of flawed components," the association stated. "This report card does not consistently measure how local school districts are actually performing."

Despite the criticisms of the latest report card, Clark said the district will use the data to identify areas to improve.

"It has given us a new baseline from which to work," he said, adding teachers will continue to analyze student test data "and remain committed to preparing students for college and careers."

He said a more accurate measure of the district's performance can be found in the district's "Quality Profile," meant to be "community-oriented companion" to the state report card.

The Nordonia Hills Schools Quality Profile is produced by the Alliance for High Quality Education, a statewide education consortium, which assisted 70 school districts throughout the state this year with such reports.

"The Quality Profile helps to evaluate the effectiveness of a school district beyond standardized testing and other statistical measures," Clark said.

The profile lists positive facts about the school district grouped in six categories: academics, arts, student leadership and activities, fiscal stewardship, parent and community involvement, and student services.

The Quality Profile can be found be found on the district's website, www.nordoniaschools.org.

Eric Marotta: 330-541-9433


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