PRELIMINARY test scores indicate Toledo Public School students are beginning to rock academically, so much so that officials expect the district to skip the grade of "academic watch" and move directly from its current "emergency" status to that of "continuous improvement."
Our hats go off to the TPS board, administrators, teachers, parents, and students who as a team put a successful learning plan together, and to its quarterback, Superintendent Eugene Sanders, who kept everyone on track, oiled the creaks, and made it happen.
The district's 2003-2004 performance, documented in all 15 of fourth, sixth, and 10th grade proficiency scores, is a momentous gain. As a result, the district expects to meet seven of 18 indicators that, through a calculation, will mark it as an ongoing achiever among Ohio's school districts.
What the anticipated higher designation does not mean is that Toledo students and their schools are yet out of the woods. The aim must be to set ever higher performance levels, to the top of the mark and beyond. Toledo children must be armed with the wherewithal to compete in an ever-changing world.
It would also be notable, for example, if the district became so hot academically that families moved back to town for the sake of the schools. That's not an impossible dream given the way the adrenaline is already flowing.
To get to that point will require an uptick in mathematics performance, elicited by improvements in pedagogy and parental involvement from kindergarten, and perhaps Head Start programs. Everyone has a sorry story about the fast-food worker who couldn't make change for a five on a $3.87 bill when the computer was down, and the one who looked puzzled at the customer who asked that the coffee cup be only three-quarters filled so there would be room for the cream. These reflect poorly on our community and should stop.
When TPS sought a levy a few years back, Mr. Sanders promised to get the district out of the state's "emergency" category at the end of three years. That deadline occurred last year. It wasn't met only because the state changed its calculation methods. That knowledge led to community support for a levy last fall.
This year's phenomenal achievement should vastly improve prospects for a levy scheduled for this fall. Taxpayers like to get what they pay for. The improved test scores validate their commitment.
They certainly made Mr. Sanders look terrific in Washington, D.C., where he was interviewed for the post of school superintendent, in large part because of his success in overseeing progress here.
His gleeful dance on learning the new achievement scores was an honest delight in a major accomplishment. His delight at the edge the scores had to give him among school board members in the nation's capital must have added bounce to his steps.