LORAIN — School district CEO David Hardy focused on schools in the district that had achieved favorable test scores, despite the district’s overall failing grade, Thursday evening at the October Town Hall.
Four of the district’s elementary schools and Southview Middle School received C’s or better in at least one component on the state report card.
Garfield Elementary School received a B in gap closing and C for improving at-risk kindergarten through third-grade readers — categories for which the district overall received an F and D, respectively.
Helen Steiner Rice Elementary School received a B in gap closing. Larkmoor Elementary School received an A in gap closing, a C in progress, and a C in improving at-risk kindergarten through third-grade readers — earning it an overall grade of C.
Toni Morrison Elementary School earned a B in gap closing and C in improving at-risk kindergarten through third-grade readers.
Southview Middle School earned a C overall, with a B in gap closing.
“I won’t lie; I’ve been three or four iterations of this in different states. … In the state of Ohio, this is one of the most rigorous report cards that I’ve seen,” he said. “And so the progress that is being made by schools in our district is true progress and something that should be celebrated because of the challenges and level of expectation that’s built into that document.”
Each building was recognized, with representatives from the buildings given a certificate and banner displaying their achievements. Hardy also briefly displayed quotes from each building’s turnaround principal summing up their students’ success, with administrators focusing on the teachers who make student success possible.
Even with several of the district’s buildings receiving C’s or better in a number of components, the district still received a failing grade from the state. It received a D in the performance index component and an F in the value-added component. Under House Bill 70, the district must receive at least a C in both those components for two years in a row to be released from state control. Hardy has yet to publicly address the district’s failing scores in-depth, though he is slated to discuss them in further detail at the next Academic Distress Commission meeting in December.
Later, he gave a brief update on standards-based grading, listed as a “frequently asked question.” The initiative, first brought up at a town hall in January, was rolled out at the beginning of the school year. It was meant to provide more in-depth feedback for parents and determine whether students were truly mastering concepts or receiving high marks without doing fully understanding the material. Teachers had received little training on the new system prior to its rollout, though Hardy said in a meeting Thursday that more instruction had been given Wednesday.
Standards-based grading implemented a 1-5 scale for third- through eighth-graders and a 1-3 scale for pre-kindergarten through second-grade. It caused late interim reports, as the system was being refined for staff to enter in the new scores, with teachers told to erase scores under the previous A-F system that had been entered in the beginning of the school year.
To sum up why the district switched, Hardy quoted “The Opportunity Myth,” a study by The New Teacher Project. It said “(Scholars) will never get their time back — and it adds up. In the four core subjects — (language arts), math, science and social students — an average student spent almost three-quarters of their time on assignments that were not grade-appropriate. In a single school year, that’s the equivalent of more than six months of learning time.”
Aligning with the new grading system, buildings and their administrators are being evaluated under a four-point scale categorized by academics, effort and behavior, Hardy said. He also said that according to a new financial report from Treasurer Josh Hill, the district is in “good shape” through fiscal year 2021.
The district is now implementing “chief chats” for teachers to ask administrators questions, as well as a teacher executive advising network, or TEAN. TEAN will have 16 teachers — from a mix of classes and school levels — who will meet with Hardy and other administrators and provide teacher input on how the district is being run. A number of them also will be included on Hardy’s upcoming trip to San Antonio next week to visit other districts.
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