Keeping score in Ohio

Residents of the Buckeye State are celebrating more than Ohio State's pre-season ranking as the #1 football team in the land. On Tuesday, the state released its 2005-2006 student achievement data and school rankings--and at first blush the news is good. All of Ohio's major urban districts have moved out of Academic Emergency, the lowest category. Charter schools did well, too. The number of them mired in the two lowest ratings dropped by 30 percent. Dayton's charter schools are now outperforming their district counterparts in math and reading in all but one grade (see here). Despite this evidence of progress, however, 68 percent of Ohio districts and 40 percent of the state's schools--considerably more than last year--failed to make adequate yearly progress under No Child Left Behind. There are several possible explanations. Of greatest import, Ohio's own new rating system considers students' growth from year to year, while NCLB does not. The tests themselves are somewhat different, too. So it's tricky to make year-to-year comparisons when the measuring stick has changed. As we've seen in other places (see here and here) the disparity between glowing state results and dismal federal ones leaves parents and the public confused about whether their schools are good or not--and about whom to believe.

"Some schools feel left behind," by Jennifer Smith Richards, Columbus Dispatch, August 15, 2006