State Superintendent Says Report Card ‘Really Good,’ Senator Fedor Calls that a ‘False Narrative’

 

Report cards were unveiled this week for Ohio’s 608 traditional district schools and 250 public charter schools. In an interview printed by Gongwer, State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria stated, “First and foremost, it’s a really good report card. It has a lot of indicators that show we’re making progress.”

To the contrary, State Senator Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) views the method of calculating grades “seriously flawed” and said, “The state recognizes the report card is flawed and depicts a false narrative for our communities and school districts.”

As WKBN points out, “Some Ohio lawmakers at odds with school report cards.”

Democrats are not the only ones who have serious concerns with the state’s system that evaluates public schools.

Last year then-State Representative Mike Duffy (R-Worthington) introduced a bill to begin the process of reworking the measurement. House Bill 591, introduced late in the biennium, was designed to kick-start a conversation about how to implement positive and workable changes to what was widely seen as a broken system.

House Primary and Secondary Education Chair Lou Blessing (R-Colerain Township) told Gongwer in August that, “…he’s heard ongoing complaints about the letter grades from superintendents in his district who argue the system doesn’t give their schools ‘a fair shake.’ [Blessing] said people who view the report card often glance at the grades without perusing the data underneath for more in-depth information about a school or district’s performance.”

Dave Cash, President of Charter Schools Specialists which helps sponsor St. Aloysius Orphanage with their schools, has heard the complaints about the report card for years. The criticisms have been bipartisan and broad based. “If people are saying that it’s ‘seriously flawed’ then why are we still closing charter schools and sponsors based upon this report?” he asked.

“Ohio public education is chattering again about the latest changes to the state report card. Once again, state legislators and the Department of Education have been ‘tinkering’ in order to satisfy either the local school district or for their personal academic ideology. Think tanks like Fordham are unhappy because the new changes did not add enough rigor. School superintendents across the state continue to complain about the ever-changing and confusing metrics. And the Superintendent of the Department of Education, as always, is telling everyone that these changes are just great,” expressed Ron Adler from the Ohio Coalition for Quality Education.

“These yearly changes, which are a reflection of political pressure, provide no baseline to accurately gage improvement,” he added. “It’s time to question if well-intended legislators and the Department of Education are truly qualified to ‘dabble’ in something so important that impacts so many public schools and 1.7 million Ohio students.”

At least one State Senator, Andrew Brenner (R-Powell), told The Ohio Star, “I agree with the State Superintendent – I think the report, for the most part, reveals which schools are working and which need to improve. I think there need to be a few changes to the report card, I think it needs to be tweaked, but overall I believe it’s working.”

“One example is Olentangy. They went from an F or D on their performance and now they have an A,” Brenner claimed. “The districts who are complaining are the ones who are just not addressing the underlying issues from curriculum, to pedagogy to outright implementation of evidence-based models.”

Brenner did express concern about charter schools. “If it (the report card) shows one thing, it’s that school funding has a major impact on charter schools. They are located only in failing school districts, and they are competing and outperforming those districts at half the cost. Let’s quit criticizing the report card and criticize the real problem – underfunding for charters which forces them to underpay their teachers.”

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Beth Lear is a reporter at The Ohio Star.  Follow Beth on Twitter.  Email tips to bethlearreports@gmail.com.

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