The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

August 23, 2013

Report cards out

County school districts receive A’s, B’s, C’s, D’s and F’s

No school district made the honor roll or flunked out in 2013, according to the new report card format released Thursday by the Ohio Department of Education.

Making its debut is a system that assigns letter grades to nine key categories. Overall district grades won’t be issued until 2015.

The benchmark remains 24 separate indicators that look at such things as test scores and graduation rates. This year, however, the state scrapped labels such as “excellent” or “continuous improvement” in use since the start of the report card program.

Categories given letter grades include:

• Performance index (gauges the achievement of every student, not just the proficient ones)

• Overall value added (students in grade 4-8 who exceeded, met or learned below expectations in reading and math)

• Gifted students (math, reading or superior cognitive only)

• Students with disabilities (pupils on an individual education program who take the Ohio Achievement Assessment tests)

• Gap Closing (compares specific student groups to state-wide numbers)

• Graduation rates (how many ninth-graders graduate in four years and five years)

The letter-grade format has generated buzz among educators since it was first announced. Joseph Spiccia, Buckeye Local Schools superintendent, said Thursday he believes some additional work is needed to make the evaluation fair and objective, in particular the graduation rate category.

“There are holes in the report card that need to be addressed,” he said.

Spiccia is also not entirely sold on the letter-grade concept.

“It creates a rank,” he said. “Somebody has to be first and somebody has to be last. Education today is more complex than ABCD.”

The maiden voyage of the letter grade format may get see some tinkering in Columbus, state officials have indicated recently.

“It’s the first run for them,” Spiccia said. “I hope they look at these issues in earnest.”

Overall, Buckeye “did well, but didn’t do well enough,” Spiccia said.

“We work every day to improve our achievement,” he said.

No other superintendents could be immediately reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

Below are the nine letter-graded categories for each of Ashtabula County’s seven school districts, with one district each from Lake and Geauga counties (Madison and Chardon) added for comparison. Sources include the Ohio Department of Education and cleveland.com.

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