- If the previous state report card evaluation criteria were still being used, we would have achieved an Excellent with Distinction rating for the sixth consecutive year - ever since this the creation of this rating category;
- We don't fully understand how to interpret the new report card yet.
There is no overall grade yet - that won't be coming until 2015. I imagine that there is still some debate going on as to how each component should be weighted. Perhaps it is also wise to force folks to look at the components individually the first time around, as once the overall grades start being presented, few will bother to look at any more detail - just like most folks didn't look past Excellent with Distinction.
As with the previous report card, this new approach starts with a set of 24 state standards. This is one of those "idiot light" indicators. It's either on or off, okay or not okay - like the dreaded "Check Engine" light on our car's dashboard which can mean one or many things need attention. This set of indicators is mostly about the standardized tests. An "ok" means 80% of the students scored a rating of 'proficient' on the state test. Some feel the bar for being called 'proficient' is set too low, and that's another debate which needs to be had.
On this dimension, Hilliard Schools and all the comparison districts hit 24 of 24 indicators, and therefore received a letter grade of "A" for this component. Good start.
Next is the Performance Index, another component which is carried forward from the prior report card. This one again deals with the standardized test scores, but is an indicator of the distribution of scores. The higher the PI, then the more students who scored at higher levels on the test. All seven of the districts were rated "B" for this component, and none were all that close to getting an "A."
We all got "A"s for Overall Value Added. This is an indicator of whether the students are gaining a year's worth of knowledge in a school year.
Where we are differ is when the Value Added Score is isolated by various subgroups. Hilliard was the only one of these districts to be graded a "D" for the Gifted students. Worthington was the only one to get an "A" for this subgroup. This one concerns me, and I want to understand more about what it means.
For Gap Closing, or Annual Measurable Objectives, we also received a "D", but so did Worthington and Dublin. Of this group, none received an "A". This measurement dimension seems to follow the philosophy of No Child Left Behind, in that a high grade requires that performance is high not only from a district-wide perspective, but also that each of the defined subgroups of students are progressing as well. In other words, issues in one minority segment of our student population can't be masked by the excellent performance of the majority.
Several things will happen in the coming months. One is that we'll need to continue to analyze what the new report card means, and to figure out what we should be doing in response. Trust that there will also be a political response to this new report card as more of Ohio's school districts find out how their communities react to this new body of information. I'm very glad we don't have a levy on the ballot this fall.
If you haven't already done so, I recommend that you read Dr. Marschhausen's commentary on the new Report Card, as well as the story which appeared in This Week Hilliard. In particular, I appreciated this comment from our Superintendent:
[Marschhausen] said while the report card is "one tool to evaluate" a district, no rating system is perfect, and state report cards "can't tell the complete story of a student's educational experience (or) define the effectiveness of our educators."