Districts can breathe easier thanks to change in state rating system

A change has been made to a provision of Ohio’s school rating system that caused otherwise high-performing districts to see their ratings plummet when they failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) with particular student subgroups. Case in point: Kettering City Schools met 29 out of 30 academic indicators last school year but didn’t make AYP in reading with students with disabilities and those that are limited English proficient. This was the third year in a row the district failed to make AYP with any two subgroups, so the state bestowed a “C” or Continuous Improvement on it. (Without the AYP provision, Kettering would have earned an A+.)

By comparison, Ohio’s rating system also awarded a “C” to Marion City Schools, even though that district met none of the state’s 30 academic indicators. In order to restore legitimacy and fairness to the rating system, State Senator Gary Cates proposed a bill (SB 167) last fall that intended to provide a safeguard to those districts, like Kettering, against falling swiftly from great heights.

The bill stipulated two things: a district could only fall in ratings if it missed AYP with the same two subgroups (not just any two subgroups) for three consecutive years, AND it would only fall one category (in Kettering’s case, down to Effective or “B.”) These provisions were recently tucked into another piece of legislation, which has been approved by both houses of the Ohio General Assembly and awaits the governor’s signature.

While this might all sound like a lot of quibbling about details, it is hugely important for Ohio districts. High-performing districts that don’t make AYP with hard-to-reach subgroups will be happy. But whether those districts should be penalized more for not succeeding with certain students, like those who don’t speak English well or have disabilities, is another matter and one that still is not resolved with this legislation.

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