COLUMBUS: Ohio’s latest ratings of public school performance show that schools made strong academic gains in 8th-grade math and science, but the assessments also found that the performance of minorities and economically disadvantaged students remained low in the state.
The Ohio Department of Education released additional data Wednesday from the 2011-12 state report cards. Information for Ohio’s 614 traditional public school districts has been delayed since August because of a statewide attendance tampering investigation.
The department posted two final elements of the school assessments Wednesday: the overall performance index for each district and building and the “value-added” measure that rates students’ annual academic growth.
The assessments give parents and other members of the public a snapshot of each school’s year-over-year performance and how it compares with state education standards.
Amid an investigation into school attendance tampering, the state Board of Education opted last year to delay release of the assessments, known as state report cards. Board members had said they were concerned that widespread inaccuracies may exist in attendance data that could have compromised the rankings.
Ohio Auditor Dave Yost launched the probe after unusual practices were uncovered around the state.
Yost’s review found that nine districts removed poor-performing students from their rolls in attempts to improve performance ratings that can impact federal funding and employee bonuses.
Rankings for those nine districts with apparent irregularities were flagged in Wednesday’s report cards as the department re-examines their attendance data. Those districts and all their schools have a watermark added to their reports, indicating that the results are subject to change pending further investigation.
Ohio’s performance index scale ranges from “academic emergency” to “excellent with distinction.”
The 2011-12 report cards show two districts on academic emergency. Eleven districts are on academic watch, five more than in the previous school year.
Ohio saw a jump in the number of schools designated “excellent with distinction” — 468 schools, compared with 316 in the 2010-11 school year.
The state says schools improved in 14 of 26 indicators and met the state’s performance goal on 21 out of the 26 indicators.
A new rating system will be phased in beginning next school year. Schools will be assessed on a traditional A-through-F scale. And the report cards will be based on standards aimed at graduating students who are ready for college and careers.
“This is a time of unprecedented change for Ohio’s public education system,” Acting State Superintendent Michael Sawyers said in Wednesday’s report. “We have made great progress but there is more to do to make sure that all of our children will enjoy the bright futures we want for them.”