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School report cards leave many questions

August 29, 2013
Weirton Daily Times

Getting an "A" is good. Getting an "F" is bad.

Unless the grades are for school systems in Ohio in the fall of 2013. For now, they're potentially kind of meaningless.

Local schools didn't fare too well under the state's new grading system, which replaced the former rating system that had been in use for several years. Under the previous system, schools were rated as excellent, or under continuous improvement or needing improvement.

Those ratings were, state officials contend, not specific enough, not as easy to understand as grades.

So, new indexes were developed to rate schools on some new parameters, not just the number of students who become proficient in certain educational areas. The new system factors out the dependence on attendance, and focuses on academic growth from year to year.

And there's the problem. With the system just debuting, the 655 Ohio school districts didn't have time to really focus on what the new stats would mean. And thus, there are statistics that don't look good, though the schools were meeting the state's former rating system quite well.

It's raising the bar, state school officials contend.

And that's all well and good, except we will again contend that making schools simply teach to achieve certain statistical goals fails to deal with the individuality of the student, the chemistry of student and teacher and the size of the district.

The state Department of Education said there were tens of thousands of third-graders who couldn't read at a third-grade level last year, and thousands more who had to take remedial courses upon reaching college.

We're left wondering if that is a matter that will be improved by changing the statistical yardstick by which schools in Ohio are measured.

 
 

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