Toledo Public Schools is unlikely to shed its state designation of “academic emergency” and reach “continuous improvement” within the next few years as promised during last year's levy campaign, district officials said yesterday.
“To be perfectly honest, I think all the stars would have to be aligned for it to happen at this point,” said Superintendent Eugene Sanders, in charge of the 38,000-student district for nearly 15 months. “It's a very complicated and multifactored process to bring about organizational change.”
Despite several academic initiatives, state proficiency test scores are not rising as quickly as hoped or as high as needed to improve the district's state designation, said board of education President Peter Silverman.
“We're not progressing as fast as we wanted,” Mr. Silverman said. “Based on what we've done and the results we've seen and what's going on [in other districts] throughout the state, I don't know if we'll get there.”
The district meets five of the Ohio Department of Education's 27 performance indicators of district performance, which include proficiency test scores, student attendance, and truancy. To reach “continuous improvement,” the school system would need to meet 14 indicators.
The goal had been to reach “continuous improvement” by 2003.
Board member Terry Glazer yesterday charged that the district was backing away from levy campaign promises. The 6.5-mill, three-year levy raises about $16 million annually for the district's operating expenses.
He objected to goals, which the board plans to adopt tonight, for evaluating Dr. Sanders' performance, which could include a 2.5 percent annual improvement on test scores.
“When you go to the voters and you tell them that you're going to be a continuous improvement district, that you're going to move up, and then you just establish goals that show very small changes, that's a very dangerous thing in my opinion. It lulls people into complacency,” Mr. Glazer said.
But Dr. Sanders responded that the “continuous improvement” designation was a goal, not a promise of the levy campaign.
“What I was trying to say during the levy was that the district will work very feverishly and very hard to do that. It is still our goal,” Dr. Sanders said.
Dr. Sanders said the district has reduced class sizes, adopted a teachers' contract, and opened an academy. All were initiatives promised during the levy campaign.
“I think it also should be noted that there are more ways to measure student improvement than tests,” Dr. Sanders said.