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CCS Gets Failing Grades On New State Report Card

Alison Holm, WCBE

Columbus City Schools were among the districts receiving bad news Thursday as the State Department of Education released it's annual report cards. Alison Holm has more.

Under the new system, which replaces the six-tier descriptive categories like 'Excellent' and 'Continuous Improvement' with letter grades, Columbus received 2 Cs, 3 Ds and 4 Fs. The district met state standards for improvement in 10th grade reading, and 11th grade reading and writing, But failed to make the grade in science, math or social studies at any level. Scores in some categories in the elementary grades actually went down over previous years. Standing with the Interim Superintendent on the steps of Hamilton STEM Academy, Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman said it's time for the city to stand with the district.

MC: I'm not here today to place blame or point fingers as to why our children are not meeting these standards. Because the truth is... it is our collective responsibility to fix it. To fix what is broken, and to provide a chance for our kids to succeed.

Academy teacher Erica Jones echoed that call.

EJ: We cannot do this alone. when our parents arrive here we need to be able to provide them with resources that will help them guide their child's educational journey. We need more early intervention programs. We need more after-school programs. Education doesn't start at 9 and end at 3:30. We need the Linden community to be a safer place. Students need to feel safe walking to and from school, to nearby recreational facilities, to the library...

Coleman added that some of that city-wide involvement in the district has already begun, with the formation last fall of the Columbus Education Commission, a group of education, business and civic leaders who gathered best practices and community input and issued a list of 55 recommendations.

Everything from engaging new teachers, keeping the good ones and making sure that they're able to teach in the classroom -- to an independent auditor to root out waste and fraud - to providing for replication of good district schools, and to provide for schools in areas where there are no good schools in parts of our city. It is a full range of recommendations we're asking the public to support.

Superintendent Dan Good says the district is already implementing some of the recommendations. The district is beginning to expand early education programs, has given individual buildings more independence, and approved a partnership with Ohio State to train literacy coaches, and is focusing on a data-driven approach to analyzing what works. He says the district wants to dramatically upgrade technology in the classroom, invest more heavily in professional training for teachers, and duplicate successful programs. But he admits much of that depends on passage of an unprecedentedly large levy request - 9.01 mils - on the November ballot.

DG: There is no 'Plan B' for if the levy doesn't pass. We're confident that this is the right move for this community. And I think we've laid out a very specific commitment to demonstrate that we're going to reduce spending, reduce administrative overhead, deploy resources to the sites that need them most. We are focusing on creating standards for high-performing early learning experiences as well as high-performing schools in every neighborhood. We're highly focused on those career pathways.

Columbus wasn't the only district that received bad news; state Superintendent Richard Ross says none of the state's 610 districts got all As on the report card, which rates districts on the first nine of 18 new performance standards. And some districts which were ranked "Excellent" under the old system, received Fs on the new report cards.

For more information on the state report cards, go to the Ohio Department of Education's website at http://reportcard.education.ohio.gov

A native of Chicago, naturalized citizen of Cincinnati and resident of Columbus, Alison attended Earlham College and the Ohio State University. She has equal passion for Midwest history, hockey and Slavic poetry.
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