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Published: Tuesday, 8/24/2004

'Improvement' rating pleases Toledo leaders

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo Public Schools will officially announce today what many administrators called a momentous occasion in the district's history: attaining the state's continuous improvement rating - up from the lowest possible label of academic emergency.

Superintendent Eugene Sanders smiled continuously as he discussed data that showed the district had met seven of 18 indicators on the 2003-2004 local report cards and achieved a performance index calculation - which is an analysis the Ohio Department of Education uses to recognize improvement over several years - high enough to surpass the academic watch category and land in continuous improvement.

"This is the most historic accomplishment in the history of Toledo Public Schools," Mr. Sanders said. "We are likely to be the only large urban district in the state to reach continuous improvement. None of the other large urban districts had reached that in their preliminary analysis."

The Ohio Department of Education will release this morning its report cards for all school districts in the state and individual schools. Mr. Sanders' assertion that TPS would be the only large urban district in Ohio to reach continuous improvement could not be confirmed until data from the other districts are released.

Toledo Public Schools had been in the lowest category since the Department of Education first attached the labels of academic emergency, academic watch, continuous improvement, effective, and excellent to districts because of proficiency test performance, attendance, and graduation rate in 1999.

The seven indicators Toledo Public Schools met were performance on state proficiency tests for fourth grade writing, sixth grade writing, 10th grade writing, 10th grade reading, 10th grade citizenship, 10th grade science, and attendance.

The fourth grade writing indicator was met with 75 percent of students passing the test - which is precisely the state standard. The percentage was reached by just five students passing, Mr. Sanders said.

"It shows the importance of every single student," he said. "This is kind of like getting into heaven. As long as you make it, you're OK, but we'd like a little more breathing room."

The district showed test score increases over last year in all areas for fourth, sixth, and 10th grades.

Craig Cotner, the district's chief academic officer, said "very focused instruction," along with strategically implementing curricula, were the reasons for the district's strides.

The individual building data showed Harvard Elementary and Toledo Technology Academy reached the excellent rating. Harvard was in continuous improvement last year.

Five elementary schools - Arlington, Beverly, Elmhurst, Old West End Academy, and Patterson - were rated effective. Bowsher and Start high schools also rated effective.

Four elementary schools - Cherry, Hale, Pickett, and Sherman - rated academic watch, along with Scott and Woodward high schools.

Five elementary schools were rated in academic emergency: Garfield, Lincoln Academy, Reynolds, Stewart, and Warren. Libbey High School was also rated in academic emergency.

Adrienne Noel, TPS director of research, said the district has challenged the state on the ratings assigned to Pickett and Garfield elementary schools. She said both schools should receive higher labels.

The 31 remaining elementary schools, along with Rogers and Waite high schools, were all in continuous improvement.

Advanced data on the district's seven junior high schools were not provided.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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