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Published: Friday, 7/28/2006

TPS targeting student scores and retention

The interim superintendent of Toledo Public Schools yesterday released two comprehensive plans that he said will increase student performance, especially in the system's worst schools, and help stem the tide of children leaving the district.

"It's not going to happen overnight, and that's why this is not a one-year plan," said John Foley, who has been interim superintendent since May.

He said the district would be able to reach the state's "effective" status within five years and increase the graduation rate from about 77 percent to 90 percent.

Toledo Public Schools is ranked as "continuous improvement." From worst to best, the rankings are academic emergency, academic watch, continuous improvement, effective, and excellent. The rankings for the 2005-06 school year will be released by the Ohio Department of Education on Aug. 15.

Mr. Foley admitted that though the system overall is ranked continuous improvement, work is needed at the school buildings ranked as academic emergency. "We have made some of the greatest gains at those schools, but there is still much work to be done," he said.

Mr. Foley presented his plans to the Toledo Board of Education at a special meeting yesterday.

"By the school year 2009-10, Toledo Public Schools will close the achievement gap between students of poverty and students of wealth," the plan said.

Mr. Foley said the system will:

w●Reach out more aggressively to community organizations, businesses, and faith-based groups.

w●Ensure that each student who needs help passing state tests will have a mentor or tutor.

w●Make sure that each child receives at least two "pre-assessments" prior to taking state-mandated proficiency or achievement tests.

w●Significantly engage parents and expect them to volunteer at least 10 hours each year.

Regarding retention and recruitment of students, Mr. Foley said the district would increase the marketing of its schools through print, radio, and television advertisements. A campaign that would use all media could cost up to $120,000.

The effort is partially to compete with the aggressive advertising campaigns of charter schools.

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