State releases annual school report cards, TPS gets 5 F's, 2 A's

8/22/2013
BY NOLAN ROSENKRANS AND IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Editor's note: This revised version includes the corrected grades received by TPS.

Like other big-city Ohio school districts, Toledo Public School failed multiple areas of Ohio's annual school report cards – presented today to the public in a new format and grading system that makes comparisons to past performance impossible.

Out of nine letter grades school districts received, the 23,000-student TPS got five F's, a D, a B, and two A's.

The new report cards include an A to F system and measure different things than the previous system. This year is a transition year for the new report cards, and only some measured components were reported. There is no overall grade for schools or districts this year and won't be until 2015, making broad statements about a school's performance impossible.

No Ohio school district got all A's or all F's.

RELATED: Searchable database by school district

RELATED CONTENT: NW Ohio school report cards (Note: Large file)

Columbus Schools fared worse than TPS - receiving four Fs, three Ds and two Cs. The public school system in Cleveland fared slightly worse than Columbus, receiving six F's, one D and two C's.

Cincinnati City Schools received six F's, two C's, and one D.

The new system was part of Ohio's request for a waiver from No Child Left Behind Act requirements. Gone will be designations such as "academic emergency" and "excellent." State education officials called that old system vague, and the new system easier to understand.

"Our goal is to create transparency for our customers," state school Superintendent Dick Ross said, "Ohio's taxpayers and moms and dads."

There are up to nine measures this year for each school and district, and there will ultimately be 18 total measures by 2016. Schools and districts receive a letter grade for each measure.

State officials said under the old system, some schools or districts' real results were hidden. For instance, Mr. Ross said, there were districts that would be rated excellent with distinction, the top grade, but special education students could be struggling. The new system gives a more accurate picture, gives more information, and is also more rigorous, Ohio Department of Education officials said.

Though many districts' grades will likely drop under the new system, Mr. Ross said the report cards are not intended to be a "gotcha."

Among the measures used this year include a performance index, which is a weighted average of a school or district's students' scores. TPS received a D in that area.

The district performed worse in the overall ranking for “value-added,” a measurement that tries to show how much students improved academically in a year. TPS got an F in that category, though the district scored highly in some more specific value-added components, such as for gifted, special education, and low performing students, where the district got A's.

Ottawa Hills Local Schools Superintendent Kevin Miller said he was pleased the small district received A grades in seven categories. It received a “NR,” meaning "not relevant,” in one category.

“We have a B in one category and that is gifted students value-added,” Mr. Miller said. “That means they met valued added – meaning one year of academic growth.”

The district as a whole “exceeded valued added,” Mr. Miller said. “That means they performed better than expected growth for the past academic year – that academic growth was above what was expected for the academic year.”

If the state had given overall grades to districts, Ottawa Hills would be an A, Mr. Miller said.

“We would have to be an A,” he said. “ I am looking at out of eight letters grades, seven are As and one is a B. That is pretty pleasing. There is no overall letter grade given but people in their heads will come to see that clearly that would be the case.”

In past years, Ottawa Hills High School has battled with Solon High School in Solon Ohio for the distinction of the top-rated high school when comparing the previous rating system and the past performance index score.

Such comparisons are now more difficult to make, Mr. Miller said.

“There are not overall [grades] for school buildings,” he said. “ I don't think parents will be disappointed. The point in setting up this system is everyone gets the A through F system because we have been beholden to it our whole lives.”

Anthony Wayne Local School Superintendent Jim Fritz said he, too, was happy with the district's performance.

It received three As, three Bs, two Cs, and one D.

“If you compared them to the old system, we would have been 'excellent with distinction,'” Mr. Fritz said.

“We have the second-highest performance index score of the schools” in Lucas, Wood, Ottawa and Fulton counties, he said. “We had a 107.5 and Ottawa Hills was at a 110.”