How Do You Measure A School District?

photo (37)Last week the Ohio Department of Education released simulations for the new district and school report cards.  You can view the simulation for school districts as well as for individual schools here and see the explanation from the Columbus Dispatch here.  The department explained the change in the following way,

“Ohio is changing how it evaluates and communicates the academic performance of its schools and districts. Schools and districts will no longer receive labels like “Excellent” or “Continuous Improvement.” In its place, they will receive letter grades on several measures in the same way a student receives grades for his or her classes.

The new report card will be phased in over several years, starting this year. Beginning in August 2015, schools and districts will receive grades on measures like the four-year graduation rate. The grades for measures will be combined into six broad categories, called components, which also will receive a grade. Finally, the component grades will be combined into an overall grade for the school or district.

The six components that will be on the new report card are:

1. Achievement: This component measures absolute academic achievement compared to national standards of success.

2. Progress: This component measures the average annual improvement for each student (i.e., whether a student gained more or less a year of knowledge and skills each year).

3. Gap Closing: This component measures how well a school or district is doing in narrowing gaps in reading, math and graduation rate among students according to socioeconomic, racial, ethnic or disability status.

4. Graduation Rate: This component measures the percentage of students whom entered the 9th grade and graduated in four and five years.

5. K-3 Literacy: This component measures the improvement in reading for students in kindergarten through grade three.

6. Prepared for Success: This component measures whether students who graduate are prepared for college or a career.

The transition to the new report card begins right away. In August 2013, the report card will have nine measures that receive grades. There will be no component or overall grades until August 2015.” photo (39)

photo (34)As you can see in the simulation Worthington, at our current performance levels, is expected to receive either an “A” or a “B” in each measure.  As we begin to better understand how these measures are calculated we will have a better idea of what these grades are telling us.  Today, I’m not willing to say whether these grades are good or bad.  Just that they are a starting point for our continual quest to get better.

These grades are an important measure for Worthington Schools.  But, I don’t believe they are the only measure that is important in our schools.  Friday night I attended the Worthington Elementary Warrior Run with roughly 300 4-6 grade students and a few somewhat crazy staff members and parents.  Friday night in Worthington was 46 degrees and damp.  A perfect (not really…. man was it cold and windy!) night to run and crawl through mud and water.

As I spent the evening at this event I was struck by several observations:

  1.  We have incredible staff members at Granby and across the district.  We had teachers from Liberty, Wilson Hill, Bluffsview, Slatephoto (35) Hill, Worthington Park, Worthington Estates, Brookside and a physical education teacher who traveled from Marysville schools, working to make this event possible.  They created a course with obstacles, they brought in Jeff Henderson and Fleet Feet Polaris Parkway to make it a real race, they passed out race numbers and medals to finishers, they publicized the race, and then they spent three hours outside in the elements, cold and damp, to make this event possible.  They didn’t get compensated financially for their time or efforts.  They didn’t ask for compensation.  They gave selflessly of their time (not just any time, Friday Night Time!) to help students build life-long wellness skills and to help Worthington build a unique community that is a great place for parents to raise their children.  I appreciate their investment in kids and their extra efforts.  I’m honored to be associated in a small way with staff members who continually go above and beyond to make a difference for kids.
  2. The 300 students who participated in the event were awesome!  It was cold: they didn’t care.  There was lots and lots of mud: bring it!  They dressed in costume, they painted their faces, and they competed.  The sixth grade boy who won his age group ran the mile in 6:02.  6:02 running through mud, crawling through tunnels full of muddy water, crawling under barbed wire, and hurdling obstacles.  That’s fast, and that kind of determination builds grit.  By the way, that young man was Conner McDermott from Evening Street.  His younger brother Cole won the 4th grade race.  The boys can run, but their dad runs Evening Street’s chess club.  Awesome!
  3. I survived the event and was pulled along the three-mile course by Granby teacher Tyler Hollinger.  I may be sore for a week!  If you’re on Facebook you can see pictures, results from the event, etc… here.

There are multiple ways to judge a school district.  The new Ohio report cards will provide a solid measure of academic performance.  The dedication of our teachers and community volunteers to provide extra opportunities for kids like the Wellness Warrior Run may be another measure.  In Worthington we strive to be a “Both / And” school district.  Both measures are important to us!  One or the other is never enough.photo (36)photo (32)photo (33)photo (38)photo (41)photo (40)

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