The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

August 22, 2013

New grading method

State report cards on schools, districts will have letter grades

ASHTABULA — Beginning this fall, local schools and school districts will no longer be labeled “Excellent,” “Effective,” or “Continuous Improvement.” Instead, they will be given letter grades just like the students.

 The Ohio Department of Education has changed its method of assessing schools and school districts, and the new report cards will be phased in over the next three years.

 This year the report card will have grades for nine measures, but will not have grades in the new component areas or an overall grade. According to the Ohio Department of Education, this will allow schools to adjust and “focus their efforts on being successful in all areas that are being measured.”

In August 2015, the schools will receive grades in six components that will then be combined to produce an overall grade. Those six components are: Achievement; Progress; Gap Closing; Graduation Rate; K-3 Literacy; and, Prepared for Success.

 The Achievement component will measure how many students meet national standards for proficiency in different subjects. This means that, in order to “Meet” a performance indicator, 80 percent of students must test “proficient” on standardized achievement tests. More students are now expected to be proficient, as the minimum was formerly 75 percent.

 The Progress component will examine the results of state tests over a range of several years, and it will also look specifically at the progress made by three groups of students: Gifted Students; Students with Disabilities; and Students in the Lowest 20 Percent of Achievement Statewide.

 This data will produce a Value-Added designation that will reflect up to three years of growth. This three-year range will allow for more accuracy, and will save schools from being penalized for a year of poor growth.

 Graduation Rate component grades will measure the rates at which students graduated four years and five years after beginning ninth grade for the first time. According to the Ohio Department of Education, “Young adults with a bachelor’s degree earned more than twice as much as those without a high school diploma or its equivalent in 2010.”

 Because Ohio recently changed the method of calculating the graduation rate to one set by the federal government, the rates can now be compared to those of other states.

 The Gap Closing component focuses on measuring the gaps in academic acheivement between specific groups of students. These groups include: American Indian/Alaskan Native; Asian/Pacific Islander; Black, non-Hispanic; Hispanic; Multiracial; White, non-Hispanic; Economically Disadvantaged; Students with Disabilities; and Limited English Proficiency.

 The Ohio Department of Education explains that “Ohio has made strides over the years to reduce these gaps. However, much work still is needed to eliminate achievement gaps and bring all students up to the same high level of achievement.”

 The K-3 Literacy component measures how well schools are helping their youngest students who are reading below grade level. Schools and districts with less than five percent of kindergarteners who read below grade level will not recieve a grade.

 The data for this component will come from reading assessments given to all students from kindergarten through third grade at the beginning of each school year. Because these results have never before been collected, this component will not be on the report card until August 2014.

 The Prepared for Success component will measure how ready students are for college or a career upon graduation. “When students graduate from Ohio schools,” states the Ohio Department of Education, “they must be ready for success in college and careers without needing to take remedial classes.”

 Any student that is included in any of the following measures is considered college and career ready.

 Those measures are: the participation rate and percent recieving non-remediation scores on college placement tests; percent earning at least three Dual Enrollment credits; percent of students with industry credentials; percent of students awarded Honors Diplomas; the participation rate and percent of students scoring three or above in Advanced Placement courses; and the participation rate and percent scoring four or above in an International Baccalaureate Program.

 This component will recieve a composite grade, but individual grades for each measure will not be included on the report card. The Prepared for Sucess grades will be released on the August 2015 report card.

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