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Published: Wednesday, 11/16/2005

Steady progress is TPS goal

Toledo Public Schools will focus in the short term on retaining the "continuous improvement" label it received in August from the Ohio Department of Education and work over the long term on moving up to "effective."

Last year, TPS met four of 23 state indicators, which includes tests in grades three to eight; five sections of the Ohio Graduation Test; attendance, and graduation rate.

This year, the district will aim for six to eight indicators, Craig Cotner, chief academic officer, said yesterday during a curriculum committee meeting.

"Indicators are probably not an urban [school district] approach," Mr. Cotner said.

The state began assigning labels of academic emergency, academic watch, continuous improvement, effective, and excellent to districts and individual schools in 1999.

To determine the ratings, the education department uses a composite of test scores called a performance index score; how many out of the 23 state indicators a district meets, and if the district reaches a federal standard called adequate yearly progress.

Toledo was able to keep its continuous improvement status for a second consecutive year by meeting that standard, which requires school districts to show progress among all students: minorities, children from low-income families, those with disabilities or with limited English skills, and those in special education.

It could have reached continuous improvement with at least 13 indicators or even the effective label with a high enough performance index score.

"I would be extremely pleased if we got eight, but eight is a long way from 13," Mr. Cotner said. "It's an extremely complex system, and the complexity is magnified by the fact that it changes every year."

Even with only four indicators, Toledo Public Schools still had more than any other urban school district in Ohio.

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