COLUMBUS — Northmont City Schools received an overall grade of ‘B’ on the Ohio Department of Education’s annual report card.
Only one school in Montgomery County received an ‘A’ grade, which was Oakwood City Schools. Brookville, Centerville, Kettering, Miamisburg, and Valley View school districts also achieved a ‘B’ grade.
Northmont received a ‘C’ in Achievement, an ‘A’ in Progress, a ‘B’ in Gap Closing, an ‘A’ in Graduation Rate, a ‘D’ in K-3 Literacy Improvement and a ‘D’ in Prepared for Success.
“We always ask, ‘Are we moving students forward?’ If we look at the achievement scores we did better than the year before,” said Northmont Superintendent Tony Thomas.
He explained that a grade of ‘C’ means students made a year’s worth of growth, a grade of ‘B’ means students made more than a year’s worth of growth and an ‘A’ that students really exceeded growth.
“We are really proud of that,” Thomas said. “This is our third year in a row of doing that. We knew we were in the top 5 percent in the state last year by doing it twice, so we can’t be worse than that this year, but we haven’t calculated that yet. The fact that students at Northmont are moving forward we think is a good sign.”
Thomas noted that the report card is only one small factor in determining whether or not students can excel outside of the classroom.
“We know businesses also want to make sure kids make good eye contact, that they present well and so forth, so we are doing a lot of other things like our Project Based Learning to make sure we are focusing on the entire student because the report card really only focuses on language arts and math,” Thomas noted. “They are important, but Northmont wants to be bigger than that. We want to ensure that we are making sure that students are well-rounded in everything from music, to how they handle themselves, to being prepared for an interview, which really can’t be measured on a test.”
The criteria for the test that determines the grades schools receive changes from year-to-year, so it is like shooting at a moving target. Thomas said the assessments are a lot more difficult than they used to be.
“But I don’t argue that is all bad, because if you are going to show growth you have to have something that is somewhat challenging or else how are you going to show growth among those top students?” Thomas observed. “Some of my colleagues may argue against that, but I saw it as necessary because to me, are you improving is more important than did a kid meet an indicator, because if they started there and didn’t meet this indicator but went from here to here, that is really important. To me growth is important, so you have to have assessments that are very challenging to make sure that we are measuring students that are somewhat at the top of the scale to ensure they are making growth as well.”
Northmont does things to monitor its students’ progress throughout the year. Thomas said that the state results are a snapshot that districts receive months later.
“Are they real valuable? Not really,” he said. “What we are ‘progress monitoring’ throughout the year is seeing if a kid is growing. That is very valuable to our teachers, but they are doing that in their classroom through different types of assessments to see if kids are growing. Those are what we call ‘formula assessments’ that allow teachers to adjust how they are teaching, which is really important. The state data is just kind of an overall trend that you look at when it comes in, but really we’ve been looking at data throughout the year that is much more important than what we are getting from the report card.”
Editor’s note: The ODE School Report Cards have been a lightning rod for criticism over the past few years. Many believe the report cards are primarily used to pit one district against the other.
Ohio Representative Mike Duffey (R-Worthington), has introduced legislation that is designed to create a report card system that is understandable, provides value and can be trusted by school districts, parents and legislators.
“HB 591 would create a new school report card system that is no longer focused on letter grades, rather than relying on arbitrary letter grades that are too often based on counter-intuitive methodologies,” said Duffey.
The Ohio Education Association supports HB 591 and says the bill would stop the use of confusing and misleading report cards that can do more harm than good; restore trust in the system by creating parent and student-centered report cards; and the bias against low income districts by moving away from the current “winners vs. losers” approach.
Reach Ron Nunnari at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@aimmediamidwest.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind