Last week the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) released the Local Report Card for school districts across Ohio, including Nordonia Hills. You will see that some of our scores have dropped from years past. The purpose of this letter is not to provide a litany of excuses; however, I am writing to tell you the Report Card should not alarm you. The ODE has been warning us for years that report card scores will drop once the new state tests have been fully implemented.
The Nordonia Hills City School District values and embraces accountability. Our community prides itself on the academic achievement of our school district and the hard work of our students, teachers and other employees. We have areas to improve upon, plans in place to make that improvement, and students and staff committed to progress. Whether or not there is a State Report Card, we have been and will continue to be accountable to our students and community.
However, let me help provide the context of our State Report Card system, as the results have been a source of frustration not only for our district but many others across the state that are in a similar position as ours.
While we are now in the fourth year of the “new” State Report Card system, there have been so many changes that our state legislators and governor enacted Ohio Revised Code 3302.036 which created a “safe harbor” provision covering the 2014-2015, 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years. The “safe harbor” provision prevents report card scores, in most situations, from being used in a negative way against students, educators and buildings/districts. The changes that led to the enactment of the “safe harbor” provision have also led to a great deal of skepticism and uncertainty when it comes to value of the State Report Card system. The following are examples of the changes:
- The assessments that our state uses to report the information on the report card changed last year for most subjects for a third year in a row (OAA/OGT to PARCC to AIR).
- The state continues to “raise the bar” on the rigor of the state assessments and continues to adjust the score needed for passage on the exams; what was considered proficient on our state test results a mere six (6) months ago is no longer considered proficient.
- Nearly 87 percent of Ohio schools districts (including Nordonia) scored an “F” in Gap Closing, even though Nordonia earned a “B” in that category each of the past three years. Our teachers, students and curriculum are the same as they have been for the years when we were earning the higher ratings; it is the tests and passing standards that have changed.
- Our K-3 Literacy grade would suggest that our students are struggling to read when in reality 98.9% of our third grade students passed the required Third Grade Reading Guarantee to move onto fourth grade. In fact, the K-3 Literacy Measure does not even measure what the stated purpose on the State Report Card and Guide says it does. The measure is stated as a reading measure for K-3 but also includes writing (Grade 3 only). The Ohio Department of Education has acknowledged this discrepancy but stated that the correction needs legislative action to occur.
We are proud we have earned an “A” for our Overall Value Added score. This means that Nordonia students made significantly more than a year’s worth of progress for the year they spent in school. In fact, of the 17 school districts in Summit County, there are only three that earned an “A” in Overall Value Added each of the last four years: Hudson, Revere and Nordonia. Congratulations to our students and staff! However, even this measure should be taken with a grain of salt because of the concerns with the report card listed above.
As you examine our State Report Card, the best place to start is by reviewing the Guide to 2016 Ohio School Report Cards. This document assists with understanding what each area on the report card measures.
Click on this link to view the Nordonia Hills City School District 2015-16 State Report Card.
In closing, I want to assure you that no matter our opinion of the methodologies used to create the State Report Card, we own the results and are accountable for them. We have areas to improve upon and plans in place to do so. We continue to have motivated students; dedicated, knowledgeable, and caring teachers and staff; and, incredible community support. Hopefully the target now has stopped moving, so we will be better prepared to focus our efforts to where they need to be. If you have any questions about our State Report Card results, please feel free to contact me at 330-908-6202.
Thanks again for your continued support of the Nordonia Schools!
Joe Clark, Ph.D.
Nordonia Hills City Schools