Westerville City School District (WCSD) Superintendent Dr. John R. Kellogg recently informed Board of Education members that high-performing school districts throughout the state will meet fewer standards and receive lower letter grades on this year’s State Report Card due to ongoing changes to Ohio’s accountability system. The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) released new state report card results on Thursday, September 15, 2016.
“We appreciate high standards for students and being held accountable for results, so one of our top priorities is to ensure that students achieve at the highest levels possible on assessments,” Kellogg explained during the September 12, 2016, board meeting. “However, it’s important for people to understand that state test results serve as a benchmarking tool for us and represent a small fraction of how we define a well-rounded educational experience for our students.”
Kellogg said a primary goal of district officials is to provide a comprehensive instructional program that develops the whole student academically, socially, emotionally and civically.
“Ohio's accountability system has changed considerably in recent years,” Kellogg said. “As such, we feel that our Quality Profile Scorecard offers a more complete accounting of what our community has told us it values as a robust educational experience.”
Kellogg noted that the latest version of the state report card will incorporate increased performance targets for individual students, add some new letter grades and reflect results from the third different set of assessments in as many years.
“The number of students required to reach adjusted assessment targets, which subsequently impacts the performance indicators we meet, is now 20 percent to 30 percent higher than it was in previous years,” Kellogg explained. “This year we’ll face yet another increase to performance indicators.”
Kellogg said these changes reflect policy makers’ efforts to increase standards so that more students can graduate and be college- and career-ready. His hope is that the Ohio Department of Education will stabilize its accountability system while developing plans to meet federal guidelines under the newly-approved Every Student Succeeds Act. WCSD received the following six component grades on this year’s Local Report Card:
- Overall Achievement: C
- Gap Closure: F
- Progress/Value Added: D
- Graduation Rate: B
- K-3 Literacy: F
- Prepared for Success: C
“Letter grades were added to report cards in an effort to make them easier to interpret,” Kellogg said. “But when more than 99 percent of our third grade students reach reading benchmarks and the state awards us an F for third grade literacy, people begin questioning the methodology.”
Kellogg said school officials around the state, including those from WCSD, remain committed to working with the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, State Board of Education and elected officials to identify an accountability system that is stable and serves all school systems well. He added that the latest results make it clear that lower grades and lower scores are largely a function of increasing standards and changes to the assessment system, rather than a function of changes in teaching and learning.
“We value everyone’s efforts to collect and analyze the data that we use to inform instruction, though we don’t believe our most recent report card reflects the quality of our teaching staff, the depth of our academic program or the efforts of our students, particularly when these results are contrary to findings from the analysis of other data we maintain,” Kellogg said. “However, we will continue to dive into the data to determine what we can learn from them.”
Kellogg said initial findings from the new data reinforce the need for what district officials have been working toward in recent years, which is an academic program structured and scaled to meet the unique educational needs of specific student populations.
“While I’m disappointed in our latest report card results, I want to make it clear that I’m not disappointed in the efforts of our students and our staff,” Kellogg said. “They are the ones having to take the full load of Ohio’s ever-changing accountability system and I am proud of their efforts.”
Kellogg said WCSD officials will ensure that continuous improvement plans demonstrate a balanced approach that addresses state report card measures while reflecting what the Westerville-area community has indicated it values in a comprehensive educational program for its children.
The State Report Card presentation is available on the district’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/wcsdohio. Residents are encouraged to view the video to learn more about report card changes and hear Board of Education members’ comments on the matter.