ODE releases district report cards; TPS moves downWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) released preliminary “report card” data, rating individual schools and their districts on Oct. 17. Some local schools have reason to celebrate, while others may have reason to worry in the midst of election season.
Toledo Public Schools was downgraded this year from a continuous improvement rating to academic watch. Its performance index rating was 81.8 out of 120, down just 1.3 points from 83.1 last school year.
“A 1.3 (change) is very minor in the scheme of things. It represents about 300 students, not that they’re not important,” said TPS Superintendent Jerome Pecko, adding that he does hope to get the index score to the 90s.
Pecko said that the breakdown of scoring is not that different from TPS’ continuous improvement rating last year. However, if a district fails to meet ODE’s “value-added” expectations three years in a row, the district is downgraded. Value-added criteria measure how a student’s performance grows year to year and is based on certain reading/math tests for grades 4-8. This is the third year that TPS did not meet value-added criteria. An 81.8 would usually be in the continuous improvement category.
“Our report card looks exactly the same as it did last year because nothing’s changed very much. A 1.3 decline is probably right around 1 percent,” Pecko said.
Part of the reason for not meeting those criteria could be settling into the district’s transformation plan, which saw middle schools being eliminated to create K-8 schools. Research shows that K-8 schools benefit the students, Pecko said.
In addition, 98 administrators were assigned to new positions, 122 new teachers were hired, 300 teachers changed grade levels or are new teachers and 3,500 students attended new schools because of redistricting.
“It is a clear demonstration of what happens when you rebuild your house and that’s exactly what TPS has done through the transformation,” said School Board President Lisa Sobecki.
During talks with the community about the transformation plan, “We let them all know that there could be a dip in our grade card, but we were hoping there would not be, but there could be,” she said. “We have had a lot of shakeup.”
This November, TPS is asking voters to approve a 4.9-mill, 10-year operating levy.
Scores to level out
Sobecki said that she was approached with concerns about the levy and report card data Oct. 17, but thinks that people understood the situation after she explained it.
Pecko and Sobecki said they believe the scores will level out as students and teachers adjust to the new plan.
“You implement anything new, it takes three solid years to be able to see those gains happen and I think we’re going to see great strides,” Sobecki said. The district also aims to have an effective rating by 2015.
The district had a graduation rate of 62.4 percent and an attendance rate of 94.3. It met four of the 26 state indicators.
Individual schools also received ratings. Of the TPS schools, five were excellent, seven were effective, 19 were at continuous improvement, eight were at academic watch and 10 were at academic emergency.
Perrysburg schools ‘excellent’
Perrysburg Local Schools has a 13.15-mill levy up and received an excellent with distinction rating with a performance index of 105.8, up from 105.6 last year. It has a graduation rate of 93.5 percent, an attendance rate of 96.9 percent and met all 26 indicators.
“This is our 12th year of being excellent or better,” said Kadee Anstadt, executive director of teaching and learning. “Every year, we get a little better so that bar is set a little higher.”
Anstadt attributed some of that success to the district’s academic options program. Before school, junior high students spend 25 minutes with a teacher. What they learn is based on their strengths or weaknesses and falls into one of three categories: intervention, challenge or enrichment.
Despite the district’s success, Anstadt said she would celebrate for about “10 seconds” before moving onto another goal — improving science test scores for the elementary schools.
Community schools were also measured. The Maritime Academy of Toledo jumped from an academic watch rating of 78.3 in performance index to an excellent rating of 90.2. Graduation rates were 47.8 percent, attendance was at 96.1 percent and the school met nine out of 19 state indicators.
Superintendent Renee Marazon said improvements were made across the board, including for special education students. The school also received a value-added bump for advancing students more than one grade level on tests.
The school decided that to “initiate a strategy to move our kids forward in a more intentional way,” Marazon said.
This strategy included after-school programs and 30 minutes of test prep every day, using a practice test to allow students to see what areas they could improve on.
“We’re going to show that we’re going to continue on this path. We’re going to move toward excellence with distinction,” Marazon said. Maritime also has longer school days and enforces a code of conduct.
“You must be studious. You must have a passion to learn. The students themselves have to be intentional in what they’re doing,” said Marazon of succeeding at the school that refers to students as “cadets.”
She said one area she would like to improve on is graduation rates, but that might be something community schools need to address together.
“Community schools have a huge transient population. That’s going to be some skewed data,” she said.
Pecko also said that TPS has a mobile student population and graduation rates were calculated using a four-year standard for the first time this year.
The ratings of Lucas County school districts for 2011-12 are as follows: Anthony Wayne Local at excellent with distinction, Maumee at excellent, Oregon at effective, Ottawa Hills Local at excellent, Springfield Local at excellent with distinction. Sylvania at excellent with distinction and Washington Local at excellent.
Last year, ODE released official report cards in late August. The State Board of Education delayed their release this year because of an ongoing investigation by the state auditor into allegations of data manipulation by some school districts, according to a news release.
All the data is considered preliminary. An official report will likely be released around the first of the year, according to an ODE spokesman.
For more information, visit http://education.ohio.gov.