The Ohio Board of Education released school report cards for the 2014-2015 school year rating the overall performance of districts in achieving educational goals.
Highlands’s overall grade is a C for the 2014 -2015 academic year. However, looking at the grade alone can be a bit misleading as Highland Superintendent Bill Dodds explained, “Highland’s performance level actually grew this year, but the standards or criteria for the letter grade increased as well.”
Another caveat about the numbers is that parents or guardians have a choice regarding the participation of their student in the state testing and these “opt-out” situations are recorded as a failing score rather than just not counting them. According to Dodds these “opt-out” numbers “had a small impact, but not too significant”.
Highland received high marks in the 4-year and 5-year graduation rate achieving 94.3 percent and 96.1 percent respectively. These grades are 2 – 3 percent higher than similar districts and 12 percent higher than the state average.
The high school received higher grades in the achievement and gap closing categories than the elementary and middle school. For the overall district the new value-add grades, only measuring grades 4-8 at the time, under the progress category appear as a partial contrast to other grades with Highland receiving an F rating for overall and gifted progress. Here again certain details behind the ranking are better than they initially appear.
Firstly as the name implies the overall category is cumulative so lower scores in a particular area like gifted can bring the rating down. Secondly, in looking at the numbers Highland provides services to nearly 99 percent of students identified as gifted which seems counter to the state grade indicated. In looking at the cumulative impact of these individual grades Highland is making an effort to correct the record and according to Dodds has taken action to appeal the “K-3 literacy and gifted data”.
High school students were tested via the OGT, Ohio Graduation Tests while the elementary and middle schools received their testing via the PARCC or Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers standards.
Although PARCC is no longer used in the state, current grades on the state report card are a partial reflection of its impact. In addition to the new AIR standards, the Ohio Department of Education has been seeking parental input regarding state learning standards to help improve the overall process and help Ohio schools meet changing progress standards.
“There is some good data once you get down to the individual level,” Dodds said. “This is what we focus on so that the district and the teachers develop goals and plans to meet student needs. The value of that data will increase when it is more timely.”
“The report card grades are one measure of success,” he continued. “We do not discount them. One of our most important measures of success is the quality of care we provide to each student when trying to meet all of their needs.”