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Twinsburg City School District critical of report cards, but 'won't dismiss them'

Ohio Department of Education releases state report cards Sept. 15

by Andrew Schunk | Editor Published: September 16, 2016 2:31 PM
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Twinsburg -- Like many public school districts across the state, the Twinsburg City School District saw its grades fluctuate from the previous year, after the 2015-16 state report cards were released Sept. 15 by the Ohio Department of Education.

While the district once again received strong marks with A's in graduation rates (both 4- and 5-year), the district also improved its lot in "progress," or value-added categories, going from a C in 2014-15 to a B this year.

However, the district saw lower marks in "achievement" with a C, and in "gap closing," or annual measurable objectives, with a D.

Ambiguity and criticism from local educators greeted the state report card results for the third straight year.

"When you take the grades from 2014-15 and try to compare them, they really are apples to oranges," said Twinsburg superintendent Kathryn Powers. "We try to take a look at how each of our children are doing ... where they are doing well and where we can accelerate learning."

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Powers added she was pleased to see improvements in the "progress," or value-added categories, which measures student growth based on past performances.

Twinsburg's overall B in "progress" represents an average based on four subsets (Twinsburg's 2015-16 grades in those subsets): the overall student body (B); gifted students (B); the lowest 20 percent of students in achievement (D); and students with disabilities (F).

"This is an interesting metric because it talks about the growth of students in a year's worth of time," Powers said. "We have our challenges with children with disabilities ... and we continue to look internally as to how we can address that. We wish it wasn't an F, but it was not a big surprise that it was."

Twinsburg's overall C in "achievement" -- for "indicators met" and "performance index" -- measures how many students passed state tests as well as how students performed on those state tests, respectively.

The district dropped from a C to a D in gap closing for 2015-16, achieving 66.7 percent of its annual measurable objectives, which measures the academic performance of racial and demographic groups of students and attempts to determine if there are gaps in achievement for these groups in reading, math and graduation.

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The district received a D in kindergarten through third-grade literacy, the same grade it received last year.

"The K-3 literacy rate compares the results of a student's preliminary reading assessment to their proficiency on the Grade 3 test," states a Sept. 15 joint letter from the Akron Area School Superintendent's Association, of which Twinsburg is a part. "This new test, however, incorporates reading and writing. As such, this measure is flawed in that it calculates a rate based on a reading score to a reading and writing score. As a result of this flawed comparison, the calculated score does not reflect actual literacy attainment."

The district also received a C in "prepared for success," a new component grade added to this year's report card that purports to look at how well students are prepared for all future endeavours, college-related or otherwise.

Powers notes that one of the metrics used in determining the grade for this category is the success of students taking the ACT; however, ODE calculates the number using the total number of students in graduating classes, not the total number of students passing the test.

And it's this sort of "flawed" methodology that concerns Powers and other members of the AASSA.

"There is a story behind the number," Powers said. "If the state is going to use this data ... it's frustrating that it's not telling the complete story."

"I speak for all members of the association when I state, we truly believe the report card is seriously flawed," said Walter Davis, president of the Akron Area School Superintendent's Association and superintendent of Woodridge Local Schools. "We welcome accountability and transparency in the educational experience our districts provide our students. As such, it's important for us to provide the facts to our districts' residents."

Powers added that once again, the report cards do not show the whole picture.

"Behind every data point is the heart and soul of a child," Powers said. "I'm not dismissing the state report card, but I need my staff to tell the real story of how every child performs, the results of individual tests and how each individual child is performing.

"We have rolled up our sleeves. Our district goals remain."

Email: aschunk@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9424

Twitter: @twinsburgohio

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Citizen_Auditor Sep 17, 2016 9:35 AM

Being a person with disabilities, I am offended by the Twinsburg School Superintendent's comments regarding an 'F' in dealing with children with disabilities.

Stop with the excuses and get your act together. It is inconceivable that a school district with unlimited funds and resources cannot find the compassion, dedication, or professionalism to bring a 'F' upto a 'C'.

Persons with disabilities have faced discrimination for far to many years in Twinsburg. As the old adage goes 'Either lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way'; if our Superintendent isn't capable of doing the whole job then it is time to get someone who can. We are paying for first class service, as taxpayers let's demand our money's worth.

Loren Sengstock