OHIO — The Ohio Department of Education released school report cards this week.
When the Ohio Department of Education released report cards this year, the report cards were only released with partial information due to COVID-19 interrupting classes. With that in mind, federal legislation allowed states to waive accountability requirements and state legislation made it so that state mandated assessments would be canceled. Within the Ohio 8 Coalition, some of the state’s most urban and largest districts, 2019 graduation rates show Columbus, Cleveland Metropolitan and Akron Public School districts came in at or above 80 percent. It put them close to the state’s four-year graduation average of 85.9 percent. Cleveland Metropolitan says they saw their biggest jumps with Black and Hispanic students graduating.
While Dayton and Toledo Public Schools hit 10 percentage points or more below the state average, Youngstown City Schools is the only district in the Ohio 8, that surpassed the state average. Their four-year graduation rate was 88 percent. That’s an increase from the previous year.
“We’re not satisfied with those numbers, obviously, but they show improvement,” District CEO Justin Jennings said in a statement. “The percentages show progress and that we’re moving in the right direction.”
While many districts across the state made improvements, legislators and educators alike have expressed in the past that the state report card system is flawed and needs an overhaul. So, while data was released, ODE and superintendents say communities should know that the numbers don’t give the full picture of what’s happening in a district.
When it comes to the third grade reading guarantee, all of the Ohio 8 had 90 to 100 percent of students meet the requirements, but report cards indicate 63 percent to 85 percent of students within these districts are still struggling with reading and remained off track. Although districts made progress to change that, it should be understood that state testing was canceled with the help of legislation. So, no third grader took assessments and the requirement needed to move on to the fourth grade was waived. This left the final scoring in this area incomplete. With that incomplete data, ODE left it up to school officials to work with students and families to determine if a student should be retained.
“Last year’s report card showed that CMSD’s increases in K-3 literacy improvement and performance index – a composite of all test scores – were among the most impressive in the state," Cleveland Metropolitan CEO Eric Gordon said.
Lastly, the state report cards also showed the challenges districts have with chronic absenteeism, which is students missing 10 percent of instructional time and 16 percent to 33 percent of students missed class within the Ohio 8. This last year, COVID-19 contributed to that problem, as districts spent a great deal of time trying to track students down. Akron Public Schools superintendent David James said, “We’re hoping for better attendance results with our partnership in Stay in the Game with the Cleveland Browns Foundation.” Columbus City Schools is working now to develop a similar plan to work with area sports teams to turn their absenteeism rates around too.
To learn more about the state report cards and where your district stands, log onto https://reportcard.education.ohio.gov/.