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Area superintendents consider 2016 state report cards 'flawed'

From Staff Reports Published: September 18, 2016 12:00 AM

The leaders of both the Cuyahoga Falls City and Woodridge Local School districts are among many superintendents throughout the region who have signed a letter criticizing what they believe is the "flawed nature" of the report card issued by the Ohio Department of Education on Sept. 15.

Woodridge Local School District Superintendent Walter Davis and Cuyahoga Falls City School District Superintendent Dr. Todd Nichols have both signed the letter, sent by the Akron Area School Superintendent's Association to community members.

The association is representing member districts from across Summit, Portage and Medina counties in response to the Ohio Department of Education's 2015-2016 Report Card that was released on Sept. 15.

"I speak for all members of the association when I state, we truly believe the report card is seriously flawed," said Davis, , who is serving as the association's president. "We welcome accountability and transparency in the educational experience our districts provide our students. As such, it's important for us to provide the facts to our districts' residents."

Nichols stated on the Falls district's Facebook page that as a member of the Buckeye Association of School Administrators' Report Card Committee, he has "witnessed the transition in Ohio's accountability and assessment system caused by the introduction of Common Core/State Standards, a switch from Proficiency tests to Ohio Achievement Assessments to PARCC assessments and now to AIR assessments, and a transition from paper/pencil assessments to web-based assessments."

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Nichols said while he is a "proponent of higher standards," he takes issue with the manner in which the report card is used to calculate a district's effectiveness.

"The system is in a state of transition, as admitted by the Ohio Department of Education, and the calculations are flawed as highlighted in the [letter released by the Akron Area Superintendent's Association]," Nichols said. "Thus, while we welcome accountability and transparency, we feel it is important that we notify community members about these flaws so residents know the facts before they arrive at conclusions based upon faulty information."

In a news release it issued Sept. 15, the association noted the purpose of the Ohio Department of Education's report card is to help identify strengths and weaknesses of each district's educational program and performance.

"As educators, the association's primary concern is to deliver a high quality educational experience to prepare students for college and careers," the news release stated. "The association believes the report card does not reflect the quality of education each respective district is providing its students."

The association states in its news release there are many examples that illustrate the "flawed nature" of the state report card including:

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"The new Prepared for Success measure looks at students over a two-year period. In late June, the state made a change in how the data was to be reported; districts were not permitted to update data derived from the first year of the period. As a result, improvements made by districts that added additional college courses are not considered or included in the score.

"The Achievement metric shares how well students perform on state tests. The state has expanded testing on federal requirements, adding nine additional tests in all content areas, and has changed test types three times in as many years. While teaching and learning standards have remained constant in the districts, the assessment requirements have repeatedly changed, making it very difficult to make comparisons and improve instruction.

"The K-3 Literacy Rate compares the results of a student's preliminary reading assessment to their proficiency on the Grade 3 test. This new test, however, now incorporates reading and writing. As such, this measure is flawed in that it calculates a rate based on a reading score to a reading and a writing score. As a result of this flawed comparison, the calculated score does not reflect actual literacy attainment."

"We believe the report card does not consistently measure the educational programs of our districts," said Davis. "Our districts' teachers and staff work hard every day to provide our students an educational experience to prepare them for college and careers. The state's ever changing report card does not reflect how local school districts are actually performing."

Others who signed the letter include: Patti Cleary, Barberton City Schools; Ben Moore, Portage Lake Career Center; Chuck Sincere, Springfield Local Schools; Brian Poe, Copley-Fairlawn City Schools; Joe Clark, Nordonia Hills City Schools; Mary Jane Stanchina, Six District Educational Compact; Jeff Ferguson, Tallmadge City Schools; Tom Bratten, Stow-Munroe Falls City Schools; Joseph Iacano, Summit Educational Service Center; Phillip Herman, Hudson City Schools; Matt Montgomery; Revere Local Schools, Dave Heflinger, Field Local Schools; and David James, Akron Public Schools.

For more information on the Ohio Department of Education's report card, visit http://reportcard.education.ohio.gov.

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