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Tuesday, November 25, 2014
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Published: Saturday, 8/24/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Area charter schools have scores like public peers

New system measures achievement differently

BY NOLAN ROSENKRANS
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Report cards for local charter schools tell a similar story to those of their traditional public school peers.

The state released its overhauled school report cards on Thursday, a new analysis that includes an A-to-F system and measures different things than the previous system. There is no overall grade for schools or districts this year and won't be until 2015.

Since there’s no overall score, there’s no way to make a direct comparison between charter schools and Toledo Public Schools. But on the whole, charter schools in the city tend to score about the same as schools in TPS, more evidence that student performance correlates strongly to socioeconomic factors.

There are up to nine measures this year for each school and district, such as a performance index, which is a weighted average of a school or district’s students’ scores, and “value added,” a measurement that tries to show how much students improved academically in a year. Out of the 28 charter schools in Lucas County that got report cards, only two got at least a B on the performance index.

While the report cards provide more information, school officials have said some of it confuses even them.

Even traditionally high-scoring schools found some head-scratching elements. Though students at Uptown’s Toledo School for the Arts continued to post some of the highest test scores in the area, it had middling marks in some of the value-added categories. Its overall value-added grade was a D, a result that both disappointed and confused director Martin Porter.

The data was so new that Mr. Porter said his staff hadn’t had time to dissect all of it, but he guessed the school was hurt in part by its already high scores. There’s only so much room to grow at the top.

“I don’t have a huge reaction to it,” Mr. Porter said, “other than to say they have moved the goal line, and our teachers and staff are committed to working on it as hard as we can.”

The Toledo schools with the most significant change on their report cards this year are the pair that focus on students with autism. Both the Autism Model School and the Autism Academy Of Learning saw once-lofty test scores plummet.

For instance, the Autism Model School had a performance index score last year of 105.5, one of the best in the area. The school, for years, has been rated excellent. But this year, the school’s performance index score was 68.8, giving it a D in that category.

“I think we have had 10 years of excellent [ratings], and all of sudden we are doing a terrible job,” school director Mary Walters said. “And I know for a fact we are a doing a better job than ever.”

The test score drop wasn’t because students did worse on the tests, Ms. Walters said, but because the state changed how it conducts alternate assessments, an option for special-education students. Ms. Walters isn’t worried though that parents will now change their mind about the school. It’s a tight-knit group, she said, and they know their model isn’t easily evaluated using traditional methods.

“We don’t fit into the system,” she said. “But we all know that.”

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: nrosenkrans@theblade.com or 419-724-6086, or on Twitter @NolanRosenkrans.



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