Wooster Schools Get Low Marks on State Reports
Wooster City Schools received a “C” in achievement, an “F” in ‘gap closing,’ which measures achievement for traditionally low performing groups of students, an “F” in K-3 literacy and a “B” in progress, which measures student growth, on the school report cards released by the ODE on Sept. 15.
WHS received “D”s in achievement and progress, an “F” in gap closing, a “C” in ‘prepared for success,’ a measure which aggregates things like ACT scores and professional certifications, but an “A” in graduation.
These grades, in part, reflect results of the 2015-2016 AIR testing, the third form of testing in three years, as OGTs were administered in 2013-2014, and PARCC tests were used in 2014-2015.
WCSD’s low scores come amid what The Plain Dealer’s education reporter, Patrick O’Donnell, reported in a Sept. 15 article as, “a mostly-expected plunge for the second year in a row on new state report cards released this morning.”
ODE addressed low scores last Thursday.
“Ohio has raised expectations for students to reflect what is necessary for them to be successful in college, careers and life. This year’s report cards and the grades we’re seeing reflect a system in transition,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria said.
WCSD Superintendent Dr. Michael Tefs was quick to respond to the report cards as, “Probably the worst metric that I have personally ever seen.”
Tefs contends that while, at face value, the results are staggering and depressing, delving into the results reveals that WCSD should be proud of the job the schools are doing, saying, “I’ve never been more proud of our district.”
Tefs had many criticisms of the report cards.
Tefs said, “[AIR] measures, a bit, your technical literacy, on a computer, before it measures math, science, social studies, ect., and I think the cut scores are significantly different than what they were on any other test the state ever offered including PARCC.”
Dr. Joshua Hawley, the director of the Ohio Education Research Center disagrees with some of Tefs’ critiques.
“Teenagers live on phones…I think it’s a bit of a red herring to blame [scores] on online testing,” Hawley said.
He went on to say the proficiency rates in Ohio have been set artificially low and the bar was raised to keep pace with a knowledge-based economy.
Aaron Churchill of the Thomas C. Fordham Institute, an Ohio based education think tank said, “If you’re going to tighten standards, it means lots of kids are not going to be deemed proficient on their state exams, so what we’re seeing is a natural reset of test scores and school ratings that are designed to reflect the higher standards that we’re putting into place…I wouldn’t go ballistic over one year of Ds, especially if the track record of the district over the past couple of years has been pretty solid.”
Hawley said the WCSD’s “A” in graduation combined with ACT averages is, “a pretty good indication that the high school, in particular, is doing a good job.”
WHS met eleventh grade indicators in government, history and biology.
Phil Klein, Social Studies Dept. chair, said in an email, “This stability [in testing] allowed us to adapt our instruction based on past performance, a benefit that our other departments did not share in, as the state has abruptly cancelled the PARCC test for math and English and hastily replaced it with AIR.”
WHS principal Tyler Keener says the Building Leadership Team and Teacher Based Teams will now break down scores, so curriculum changes can be made to increase student success.