Ohio scales down school report card for local schools: What does that mean?

The impact of the coronavirus shutdown of all Ohio K-12 schools last March through the end of the 2019-2020 school year will mean a scaled-down annual report, say Ohio Department of Education officials. The report is scheduled to be released later this month. (File Photo\Journal-News)
The impact of the coronavirus shutdown of all Ohio K-12 schools last March through the end of the 2019-2020 school year will mean a scaled-down annual report, say Ohio Department of Education officials. The report is scheduled to be released later this month. (File Photo\Journal-News)

The Ohio school leaders’ decision to create a scaled-down report card this year will force some to search elsewhere when seeking comparative information about local schools.

The annual report card produced by the Ohio Department of Education is scheduled to be released later this month but will now lack some of the key measurements employed in previous years’ reports including overall letter grades for school districts.

Though criticized by some over the years for a lack of consistent measures and changing grading criteria, the annual assessments of Ohio’s 613 public school districts and their individual school buildings was a helpful tool, especially for families with school-age children looking to re-locate.

ExploreHow did your district do on the latest state report card?

ODE officials said the coming reports’ changes are due to the state-ordered shutdown of all live classes among Ohio’s K-12 schools as part of the initial coronavirus prevention strategy. Eventually, all schools in the state had to stay in remote learning mode through the spring and the end of the 2019-20 school year.

Student academic proficiency testing was skipped due to the shutdowns, and data from those are a primary source for compiling the report cards.

“There will be no grades assigned or rankings issued,” the ODE said on its website. “Additionally, not all data will be available, and many measures of the report card will not be calculated. For example, the report card will not have the Achievement component, Progress component or Gap Closing component data since they are primarily based on the spring state tests that were canceled.

“The Graduation and Prepared for Success components are lagged, so the 2020 Report Cards will include data for the 4-year class of 2019 and the 5-year class of 2018,” officials said.

In recent years some area school systems have generated their own annual reports, which often include some measured academic and non-academic information not compiled by or included in the state assessments.

These so-called “quality reports” will be of some help to families, said area real estate executives, as they will now be forced to look elsewhere for information usually found in the annual state reports.

“It will cause frustration for some people,” said Bill Gabbard, president of the Butler and Warren Association of Realtors. “I’m telling people to call the school districts directly.”

Donna Deaton, vice president of REMAX Victory realty in Liberty Township, said it won’t be as easy as in past years for those moving to determine the quality of schools in a prospective community.

The minimal state reports “will be a little bit of impact” on some people “but they will find a way around through social media sources,” said Deaton.