“I don’t understand what our state is trying to do to our public schools,” Elyria City Schools Superintendent Paul Rigda said. “What do they want from us?”
It's a good question.Let's take a look at what the state intends to do. The table below analyzes how schools using the current rating system will be allocated new grades. For example, only 94 of 1452 schools currently rated as "excellent" will receive an "A" grade, 4 of them currently rated "Excellent", will receive a "D", which is sure to come as a shock, though perhaps not as shocking as the 2 schools currently rated "Effective" which will receive an "F".
|2011 Performance Rating||A||B||C||D||F||Grand Total|
|Excellent with Distinction||130||186||-||-||-||316|
You can view the entire list of simulated school ratings, here (xls).
How does this happen? Well, the state has decided to change not only the grading system, because apparently parents aren't smart enough to differentiate between "excellent" and "Academic Emergency", a move described as "Insulting" by one suprintendent, but to also change how grades are calculated. The new formulation will rely heavily upon test scores.
- Percentage of State Indicators Met
- Performance Index (based on test scores)
- Achievement and Graduation Gap (based on test scores)
- Value-Added (based on test scores)
As we have talked about at length before, there's a significant element of socioeconomic factors that affect these results.
Under this new system is it likely that at least 70% of schools will see their ratings drop.
With the increased focus on school district ratings, he stated it has been some what of an uphill battle to keep teachers and staff focused.
By having to keep the teachers motivated and pumped up, in lieu of increased pressure by the state to perform on standardized test, the district is finding it hard.
He simply tells his staff to look to their students as their motivation.
“They are doing all of this (winning awards and honing their skills and talents) because of their education,” he said. “It’s taking a lot of work to keep them (teachers and staff) pumped up.
Motivating students and staff isn't the only problem. It may also have a deleterious effect on house prices, at a time when prices are already depressed
Under the new plan, parents seeking “the best schools” for their kids in Central Ohio would no longer look at Dublin, Upper Arlington or New Albany. In fact, the only top-rated district remaining in the entire region is Granville, 40 miles away in Licking County. Better get ready for a long commute, moms and dads! The same challenges face Cuyahoga county parents. Where home buyers previously had seven “top-rated” districts to choose from, now they only have two. Sorry North Olmsted, sorry Mayfield.
The obvious concern with this plan is the impact it will have on levies. Despite recent success in passing crucial levies, voters might be less inclined to continue to support schools they see as having been downgraded, or not rated "Excellent". When the state is rolling back its financial support for public schools, forcing them to rely more and more upon local sources of funding, this seems counter to that, in effect helping to cut off all sources of money leaving only drastic cuts as a means to balance already broken budgets.