Ohio report cards ready for changes

A pair of local administrators said they are not overly concerned about changes the state has made to its academic evaluation system.

The new system went into effect with the 2012-13 state report card, which is scheduled to be released this month.

With the new system schools and districts are no longer being ranked Excellent, Effective, Continuous Improvement, Academic Watch or Academic Emergency.

Instead, they are receiving letter grades A-F on several measurements.

Warren City Schools Superintendent Michael Notar said he’s hopeful the new system will be easier for parents and community members to understand.

“I think the way the old system was set up people weren’t quite sure what was what,” he said. “But I think this might be a lot easier for everyone. We’ve made a huge transition in Warren to move our district forward. Regardless of what report card they use, we will still continue to work on doing that.”

Previous school and district report cards mostly were based on how well students performed on state achievement tests, ODE representatives explained. They said achievement tests will still be a major part of school and district grades, but the new report card will view them in a different way.

Also, the new report card will use expanded measurements to determine if students are prepared for success beyond high school.

Information about the new system has trickled out the past year. However, the Ohio Department of Education unveiled specifics about the new report card earlier this month.

The new report card will be phased in over several years, starting this year. Beginning in August 2015, schools and districts will receive grades on measures like the four-year graduation rate. The grades for measures will be combined into six broad categories, called components, which also will receive a grade. Also, the component grades will be combined into an overall grade for the school or district.

The transition is starting with the current report card. On it, there are nine measures that receive grades. There will be no component or overall grades until August 2015. ODE officials said this will give schools time to adjust to the new system and focus their efforts on being successful in all areas that are being measured.

An interactive report card also will be posted on ODE’s website, so everyone can find information, officials said.

“I think the new system gives people a better look at what their school is doing overall,” said Weathersfield Superintendent Damon Dohar. “The basics of the report card, the indicators, are still there. If you meet a certain number of indicators you get a certain grade. But when it comes down to it, no matter how they grade us, if we’re doing well the reporting system will reflect it.”