Entering a new era of accountability

Ohio’s public schools and parents will soon see a revamped local report card, starting in August 2015. The new Report Cards will display A-F ratings for all public school district and building (traditional and charter). The grading system will have six components: achievement, progress, gap closing, graduation rate, K-3 literacy, and prepared for success. The new rating system was enacted under House Bill 555, which was signed into law in December 2012.

The new grading system improves upon Ohio’s outgoing report card system in three substantial ways:

  • Greater rigor: Under Ohio’s current grading system 387 out of 610 school districts received an Excellent (A) or higher rating in 2011-12. The new grading system, however, will increase the definition of an A rated district. In the Ohio Department of Education’s simulation of districts’ 2015 report cards, 30 districts received an A for performance index (part of the achievement component) and 25 districts received an A for annual measurable objectives (part of the gap closing component).[1]
  • Increased transparency: Ohio’s new A-F rating system is more transparent and understandable for parents and the general public. Gone are the days when mediocre districts could hide behind Continuous Improvement (C), or the harmless “below” value-added rating. In are letter grades for each indicator, giving the public a clearer understanding of how well their district does in comparison to statewide performance benchmarks.
  • More inclusive view of school and student performance: Ohio’s current rating system is largely based on two indicators: performance index, a weighted proficiency rate, and value-added index, a measure of student learning gains. The new report card, however, will hold schools accountable for—and make increasingly transparent—additional performance measures, such as graduation rates, advanced placement results, and learning growth for gifted and special education subgroups.

In a smart move by Ohio lawmakers, school districts won’t be held accountable to this new grading system either this school year (2012-13) or the next (2013-14). This pause gives school districts and charter schools time to adjust to the new accountability system, while allowing them to prepare for the Common Core standards in 2014-15. Ohio’s transition to a new and improved accountability system, matched with higher and clearer academic standards, are an improvement for Ohio’s schools and its students.

[1] ODE hasn’t simulated overall grades for schools.

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