Ohio Report Cards Not The Whole Story

Warren, OH – Community leaders recognized local school district student, teacher and administrator achievements, and renewed their vows to continue advocating on their behalf to State of Ohio executive and education leadership, at the October 27th Ohio School Report Card luncheon. Hosted by Eastern Ohio Education Partnership and held at The Raymond John Wean Foundation in Warren, nearly 100 school officials, business executives, and community service organizations reviewed 2016 Ohio School Report Card results and discussed how improvements could be seen on future exams.

“These public report cards should not necessarily invoke criticism or praise for our schools,” said Stephanie Shaw, Executive Director, Eastern Ohio Education Partnership. “There are any number of factors impacting teacher and student success, and these tests are but one measurement for evaluating our schools. We are looking at, and then beyond, the report card letter grades to support the exceptional efforts taking place behind the scenes.”

The ongoing transition of testing systems, including the most recent State of Ohio changes from PARCC to AIR math and English exams, have made preparation difficult for teachers, students, and their parents, explained Ron Iarussi, Superintendent, Mahoning County Educational Service Center. In addition, changes from pen and paper to computerized testing models are another likely factor in diminished test scores.

“Standardized tests are designed to equally evaluate student performance by applying the same test in the same condition at the same time each year,” said Iarussi. “The incessant changes we’ve seen each of the last three years in test formats and content introduces inconsistent variables that impact scoring, and recent test scores may, in fact, reflect exam changes as much as student performance.”

With these factors in mind, Mahoning ESC Director of Teaching and Learning Kim Davis presented through a mock report card how State of Ohio Department of Education annually attempt to measure school districts’ successes and areas for improvement in six key components; Achievement, Gap Closing, K-3 Literacy, Progress, Graduation Rate and Prepared for Success. Davis also showed how the decline in this year’s local district test scores mirror a pattern statewide due in part, according to state education officials, changing exam standards and increased scoring expectations.

“Our schools are doing great and improving every year,” said John Wilson, Director, Turning Foundation. “We need to continue as a community – our business, government, and non-profit sectors – working together to align goals, share data, institute programs, and measure results to ensure quality education for every child.” For example, Wilson gave a hands-on demonstration of Turning Technologies audience response systems designed to help instructors identify student progress through real-time feedback, increase learning material effectiveness.

Wilson also led a post-event conversation with several community and business leaders to begin shaping a plan to raise awareness of and advocate for area school districts at the state and local level. Warren City Schools Assistant Superintendent Wendy Hartzell and Senator Joe Schiavoni were on hand to share their feedback and lend support. “This is simply the first in an ongoing series of conversations about how we can and will support our schools,” said Jennifer Roller, President, The Raymond John Wean Foundation. “We recognize the opportunities and challenges presented by standardized testing, and are committed to playing active vocal roles to ensure our schools are successful.”

Eastern Ohio Education Partnership will next publically recognize Ashtabula, Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull County school district partners for their exceptional efforts in student growth, valued added, and overall progress, as rated by the Ohio Schools Report Card, at their Excellence in Education 2016 awards luncheon on Thursday, November 10. More information about and reservations for the luncheon can be made online at www.eoepartnership.org or by writing info@eoepartnership.org.