Bellefontaine Examiner

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Graded just like the students

New school report cards, due out today, to assign letter grades

School district report cards now more closely resemble the grade cards distributed regularly to their pupils.

Annual school reports are expected out today, but no longer will a district be categorized as “effective” or “excellent.”

Sample-rptcrd

School report cards will look much different than in years past as the Ohio Department of Education rolls out new evaluations designed to assign letter grades to district’s efforts to educate students. (SCREEN SHOT | ODE)

Beginning with this year’s report cards, the Ohio Department of Education is transitioning to a letter grade format that will assign A-F grades to schools based on six components.

The change is more than just semantics, as the ODE claims the new evaluation system will place less emphasis on standardized tests and now account for how well students are prepared for college or a career upon graduation.

Among the six components is a “prepared for success” facet that takes into account how many honors diplomas are awarded, dual enrollment credits and participation in college admission tests and those scores. That area, however, will not be factored until August, 2015.

Letter grades attached to this year’s scores will evaluate the same kind of criteria as in the past, with some modifications.

The most recognizable area of the new evaluations is the “achievement” component, which measures academic achievement compared to national standards. This achievement component includes the indicators used to determine previous ratings, though ODE has raised the bar on what it considers proficient. Previously, for a district to meet a certain indicator, 75 percent of students had to pass the test. That number is now 80 percent.

Also, instead of merely trying to “meet” adequate yearly progress as it has before, the “gap closing” component seeks to measure how well a school is doing in narrowing gaps in reading, math and graduation rates among students. That measure is based on socioeconomic, racial or disability status, “with the goal of bringing students up to the same high level of achievement,” according to ODE talking points.

Graduation rates will be factored into a school’s overall letter grade, as well as efforts to gauge individual students’ growth from year-to-year. Literacy rates for students in kindergarten through third-grade will also be a factor.

This year’s reports includes nine letter grades in sub-categories that make up the six components, but will not include an overall letter grade for a school until next year, to “give schools time to adjust to the new system and focus their efforts on being successful in all areas that are being measured,” according to the ODE.

School administrators should expect to see fewer As and more Cs on their initial report card. Schools that were “effective,” a year ago will likely earn a B, but will see plenty of Cs and a few Ds on this first new report, according to ODE projections.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the West Liberty-Salem school board, Superintendent Kraig Hissong talked about how the district had been satisfied in years past to have “met adequate yearly progress,” but won’t be satisfied when the school likely earns a C on the modified gap closing component.

For more information on the new school report cards, visit newreportcard.education.ohio.gov.

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