2015-16 State Report Card Requires Reading Beyond the Letter Grades

2015-16 State Report Card Requires Reading Beyond the Letter Grades
Posted on 09/15/2016
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The Ohio Department of Education may be back on track in its September release of state report card results for Ohio schools and districts. But the 2015-2016 school year results for Lakota Local Schools, released Thursday, Sept. 15, should be read cautiously and with some contextual understanding of the steep challenges all Ohio schools are facing under the new grading scale.

Those challenges include a continuously changing, and rising, bar against which schools are graded for their performance in just six different areas. In some areas, that introduces disagreement between assessment results that show achievement and corresponding letter grades that do not. Pair that with three different test combinations over the last three years and any sort of year-over-year comparison is immeasurable.

“The complexity of the state report card means you can’t just read it like you might read your child’s report card,” said Lakota Acting Superintendent Robb Vogelmann. “The letter grades for each area only tell part of the story for how we’re ultimately preparing students for their future.”

“At Lakota, we focus on the end game,” Vogelmann continued. “That means how well we’re preparing our students for the rigors beyond high school. For example, are they reading on grade level by the third grade? Are we graduating students on time and do their test scores and experiences suggest they are college- or career-ready? The report card is one valuable measurement tool, but doesn’t draw a complete picture of both what we’re doing right and where we might need to improve.”

In line with other similar districts across the state, Lakota’s report card looks significantly different, as compared to previous years. The drops don’t correlate to waning student achievement, but more to the new and evolving set of achievement and accountability standards facing all Ohio schools.

“While I’m not proud of the actual letter grades on this year’s report card, I am proud of our staff and the strides they continue making toward individual student growth,” Vogelmann said. “We will always do what’s in the best interest of our students, beyond the measures of the report card, and in doing so, we’ll also continue chasing the high targets set by the state.”


Our Results: Looking Beyond the Letter Grade

For the first time under Ohio’s new format, this year’s report card assigns single letter grades to each of the six components: Achievement, K-3 Literacy, Gap Closing, Progress, Graduation Rate and Prepared for Success.

“It really is critical that our community takes some time to understand the context of the state report card and what exactly it’s measuring,” said Lakota Executive Director of Curriculum & Instruction Marlon Styles. “The well-rounded educational experience that we value so much at Lakota isn’t always factored into the formulas that yield our final letter grades.”

For Achievement, Lakota earned an overall ‘C.’ This combines two different measurements: Indicators Met (earning Lakota a ‘C’ for how many students are passing the test, by the state’s rising standards, in each subject area and at each grade level) and Performance Index (earning Lakota a ‘B’ for how well students are performing on each test.)

Component

Understanding the Measurement

What Ohio Schools are Up Against

The Complete Picture

What the Report Card Doesn’t Tell You


Achievement

  • Four straight years of changing cut scores, or targets, through which “passing” is defined at each grade level and subject area.
  • Three straight years of different combinations of tests, ranging from OAA to PARCC to AIR.
  • On average, Lakota students performed about 17 percent higher than the state average.
  • 7 of the 8 indicators not met this year fell in subject areas where the test was different from last year.



Lakota received an ‘F’ for K-3 Literacy, which measures not how well all students read, but how well schools assist their struggling young readers.


Component

Understanding the Measurement

What Ohio Schools are Up Against

The Complete Picture

What the Report Card Doesn’t Tell You


K-3 Literacy

  • Measures only the progress of students in grades K-3 who are “off track” in their reading, without regard to how many students are “on track.”
  • The End Game: 99.4 percent of all third-graders last year met the requirements of the Third Grade Reading Guarantee and were promoted to fourth grade.


  • 77.5% of all K-3 students were deemed “on-track” last year and did not factor into this letter grade.



Lakota received an ‘F’ for Gap Closing. This component measures a district’s success in “closing the gap,” or increasing the percentage of proficient students in English Language Arts, Math and graduation across nine different student subgroups, as identified by the state. The groups are based on income, race, ethnicity or disability and are measured against Annual Measurable Objectives, which continually increase to move each group closer to the baseline performance level of all students in Ohio. 


Component

Understanding the Measurement

What Ohio Schools are Up Against

The Complete Picture

What the Report Card Doesn’t Tell You


Gap Closing

  • Like the cut scores for the Achievement grade, the Annual Measurable Objectives, or target proficiency scores, increase every year.
  • Lakota has introduced this year a staff training program that builds understanding among staff and students of diverse backgrounds and promotes high achievement among our most vulnerable students. This includes a strong focus on both intense intervention and enrichment opportunities for students of all different backgrounds.



Lakota’s overall ‘A’ for progress measures the growth that all students are making, based on their past performance. The component considers fourth- through eighth-graders’ average growth, over multiple years, in the areas of math and reading.

Component

Understanding the Measurement

What Ohio Schools are Up Against

The Complete Picture

What the Report Card Doesn’t Tell You


Progress

  • A district will receive a ‘C’ if the average growth of its students is equivalent to one year’s worth of growth.
  • The final grade weighs the growth of all students, in addition to three other designations: gifted, students with disabilities and students whose academic performance is in the lowest 20 percent of students statewide.
  • While other components may suggest otherwise, Lakota students are growing at tremendous rates. The growth index for all Lakota students was almost 13, as compared to the 2 required for an ‘A’ by this component.



Lakota’s overall ‘A’ for graduation rate combines both our four-year and five-year graduation rates. Prepared for Success takes it one step further, measuring how well a district is preparing its students for college and career readiness. Lakota earned a ‘C’ for this component.

Component

Understanding the Measurement

What Ohio Schools are Up Against

The Complete Picture

What the Report Card Doesn’t Tell You

 

Graduation Rate & Prepared for Success

  • Doesn’t take into consideration every unique opportunity that contributes to a well-rounded high school experience.
  • The End Game: Over the last four years, Lakota has averaged a 94 percent graduation rate.

     

  • Many other indicators of student preparedness:
    • Lakota’s average ACT composite score is two points higher than the state average.
    • 63 percent of students who took the ACT last year earned remediation-free scores.
    • 67 percent of graduates taking an AP exam scored 3 or higher, earning college credit.
    • Hundreds of students participated in Lakota’s professional internship program for college- and career-readiness.

 


Moving Forward: Challenge Accepted

“We aren’t alone in our disappointment of these results, but that doesn’t make the results any easier to swallow,” Vogelmann said. “The rising targets in Ohio are only a reflection of the nationwide trend toward higher standards and global competitiveness.”

“Lakota is an excellent school district and we will continue to challenge ourselves and our students in a way that prepares them for the end game – not a test, rather life after graduation,” he continued. “That is always our top priority – and one where we produce results year after year.” 

Lakota will continue to utilize other local assessments, like Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) to continuously gauge student mastery of the learning standards all year long. Other tools like Mastery Connect, for example, are being implemented district-wide to better assess student progress and use real-time data to individualize instruction and provide remediation and intervention, where needed. Staff professional development days all year long help staff grasp the most effective use of such tools to meet district targets for student improvement. 

“Teaching to the test should never be confused with teaching to the standards,” Vogelmann said. “We value the critical thinking skills that the learning standards promote and work relentlessly to move every single student toward mastering every one of those standards. Regardless of any test, that is the end game for us.” 

Click here to view Lakota’s 2015-16 state report card.