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Education

TPS gets low mark in Ohio rankings

Ottawa Hills achieves Top 10 status

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Robinson Middle School in Toledo.

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Toledo Public Schools rated in the bottom fourth last year of Ohio public schools, while suburban district Ottawa Hills made the Top 10, according to rankings released Thursday by the Ohio Department of Education.

Toledo's spot -- 708 out of 937 districts ranked -- was not surprising, based on its performance on state school report cards. Superintendent Jerome Pecko said the district's transformational plan, which is in its first full year of implementation, was developed to combat such poor scores.

"That's part of the reason why we are engaged in some very significant initiatives," Mr. Pecko said. "We are hopeful that we can improve the way our district performs."

The statistics used for the rankings are not new. The state ranked schools based on their performance index scores, a weighted, cumulative score for standardized tests that appears on Ohio's school report cards. But the rankings by the state are new, required by the state budget. The list published Thursday is considered a draft, because the new law requires the Education Department to use other factors in its rankings. The official list will be published in September, 2012.

State education officials said the rankings will help parents "better understand how effectively Ohio's public schools are helping students learn."

"Educators, parents, and communities can make informed decisions about improving their schools when they have the right information," state schools Superintendent Stan Heffner said in a statement. "The ranking list is a powerful tool we can use to see how local schools stack up with similar communities around the state."

All public schools, including charter schools, were ranked if they received a performance index score. The state provided rankings by district and by individual school.

While TPS ranked low in the state, some of its individual schools were high on the list. The Toledo Early College, which allows students to earn college credit while in high school, ranked 17th in the state, and was the top-ranked school in the Toledo metro area. Another magnet high school, the Toledo Technology Academy, was ranked 121th out of about 3,500 schools that were ranked.

Both programs are rigorous, Mr. Pecko said, and the district hopes to grow enrollment at both locations.

When compared against the state's other urban districts, Toledo lands in the middle. The goal, Mr. Pecko said, is to move beyond urban schools, and to compete academically with other districts.

Toledo has mountains to climb to compete with the Ottawa Hills district, at least if rankings are based on test scores. The suburban district ranked ninth statewide, and jumps to fifth when charter schools are excluded.

Charter schools were listed in both the district and building rankings. A pair of Lucas County charter schools actually bested Ottawa Hills, though both -- the Autism Model School and the Autism Academy of Learning -- are small schools that focus exclusively on students with the disorder. The Toledo School for the Arts was ranked 80th in the district rankings. Both the Perrysburg and Anthony Wayne districts made the top 100.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: nrosenkrans@theblade.com or 419-724-6086.

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