State report card paints unfair picture
An editorial by Knight Times reporter Jack Marketos
On Feb. 26, the Ohio Board of Education released the second wave of its school report cards.
Immediately following the release, many Ohio school leaders stepped up to dispute the results.
In a press release, the president of the Ohio Education Association — the Ohio teachers’ union — stated that “Ohio’s 2014-15 report cards should be interpreted with considerable caution,” and followed by saying how he anticipated a significant drop in test scores all over the state.
It was this drop in test scores that raised the ire of many school leaders. A.J. Wagner, an Ohio Board of Education member, declared: “The tests, and, therefore, the grades, violate standards of fairness … I urge students, parents, and communities to ignore them. These report cards are not just inaccurate, they are harmful to our children, our schools, and our communities.”
Kings Superintendent Tim Ackermann has stated before his frustration with the state report cards, describing them as “not a good indicator of success for school districts” and that this year was worse than others. A large issue is that students who opted out of last year’s PARCC tests counted as a zero score for their district. Zeros drag averages down very quickly. Should a school district be punished for families exercising their right not to take a test?
Kings received mostly A’s and B’s on the report card, except for the “Value Added” section, in which it received an F. According to the report card (see top photo) “Value Added” is “your district’s average progress for its students in math and reading, Grades 4-8. It looks at how much each student learns in a year. Did the students get a year’s worth of growth? Did they get more? Did they get less?”
This description is heavy on generalities but short on specifics. Does the general public even understand what this means? Or do they just look at a district’s report card and see an “F”? Most likely the latter.
In spite of all this, however, Ackermann told me in a recent interview that Kings will still try to improve on the areas where the report card shows weakness.
Even though a “report card” for schools seems like a good way to hold schools accountable, the way this data is collected and presented seems are very poor, and there is a lot that needs to change. The current method used to evaluate our schools is flawed. Ackermann criticized it as a “one size fits all” method of judging students and schools. Maybe we need to start viewing our students as individuals and stop the cookie-cutter approach we’ve taken so far.
Jay Marketos is a KHS junior and a reporter for The Knight Times