Bad winter has ‘ripple effect’ on state report cards

Bad winter has ‘ripple effect’ on state report cards

A new school year is starting soon, but the usual release of Ohio Report Cards for school districts won’t happen until September.

The report cards — typically released in August — detail achievement scores, growth in student learning and graduation rates, among other items, from the previous school year.

The 2013-14 state report cards are now anticipated to be released in mid-September, said Marianne Mottley, assistant director of accountability at the Ohio Department of Education.

“ODE granted districts an extension to the (spring) testing window this year because of the extreme weather conditions that caused so many districts to be closed for extended periods of time,” Mottley said. “This testing extension has a ripple effect on all of the processes that we do and districts do to prepare for the report cards.”

Greg Young, superintendent of Ross Local Schools, said he finds the delay in the release of the state report cards “disappointing.”

“It’s inconvenient when trying to assess how we did last year,” Young said. “On staff opening day, we talk about report card results, things that look good and things that need improvement.”

Young said it was already pushing the start of the school year to have the state report cards released in mid-August. He said now the school year will already be a month in before the data is formally released.

While the state hasn’t identified a date yet for the release of report card data, districts across Ohio have been able to access raw test scores — along with performance index, annual measurable objectives and graduation rates — this summer through a secure data center online, said John Charlton, spokesman for ODE.

“(Districts) can get a heads up of what the results are before the public release,” Young said. “It’s not the whole report card yet, but we know the achievement scores.”

Young said he anticipates similar scores from last year for the Ross district. He said all grade levels reached at least a 90 percent passage rate on the standardized tests, expect for one subject area in one grade that hit 85 percent.

Mottley said a change coming to the report card data this year is an increase in the minimum passage rate for districts to meet indicators for test scores in grades 3-8 and 10. Previously, districts needed 75 percent of students to pass the tests; the minimum rate is now 80 percent.

“We live in an era of ongoing increasing accountability and rise in the percentage to meet indicators that will impact all across the state,” said Keith Millard, assistant superintendent of instruction for Hamilton City Schools.

Based on preliminary data made available to districts, Millard said he believes Hamilton will hit all-time high scores in six areas and the district’s second-highest scores for an additional four measures.

“We’ve been able to work on building beginning-of-the-year strategies based on that data,” Millard said, but added everything is tentative until officially released by the state.

Sam Ison, superintendent of Middletown City Schools, said his district has been using the raw scores to “guesstimate” its own report card grades. Ison said he doesn’t expect much change in the letter grades for Middletown on the 2013-14 report card despite some improvement in test scores.

“We’ve seen growth but we’re not hitting the marks mandated by the state,” Ison said. “As long as we continue to see growth, I’m optimistic.”

Kay Glancy, of Middletown, a mother to three students at Amanda Elementary School, said she’s paid more attention to state report card data in recent years. She has a son entering fifth grade and twin girls in fourth grade.

“It’s very important; it shows you improvements each school is making,” Glancy said. “It shows the strides each school is making to improve teaching and quality.”

The 2013-14 report card will not include an overall letter grade for districts, or letter grades for the six components — Achievement, Progress, Gap Closing, Graduation Rate, K-3 literacy and Prepared for Success.

Mottley said districts will get letter grades for 10 measures: indicators met; performance index; four-year graduation rate; five-year graduation rate; annual measurable objectives; value-added overall; value-added for gifted students; value-added for lowest 20 percent; value-added for students with disabilities; and a new measure of K-3 literacy.

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