Convention says that low-performing schools are mainly an inner-city problem. To a degree that is the case—urban public-school systems have long struggled to educate their students well. Cleveland’s public schools are something of a poster-child in this respect, and other urban schools systems in Ohio struggle just as mightily. Youngstown City Schools is in “academic distress,” and Columbus’ district had so many problems with academic performance that some of its employees “scrubbed” student records to make it appear better.
That being said, it’s inaccurate to say that weak schools exist only in urban areas. As the maps below demonstrate, inept schools aren’t just an urban problem.
The first map shows the geographic distribution of Ohio’s low-rated public schools (district and charter), along both the state’s achievement and value-added indicator of performance. Many, but not all, of these 218 schools are located in large urban areas (Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo). Yet there are pockets of low-performing schools in other mid-sized towns including Warren (near Youngstown in Northeast Ohio), Lima (Northwest Ohio), and Lorain (west of Cleveland). There are even a few low-rated schools in rural areas.
Map 1: Ohio schools that received a D or F in performance index (achievement) and value-added (learning gains), 2012-13
Click on the map for an interactive view of the data. (The color of the points are related to the school's D/F rating.)
When we home in on the state’s value-added indicator,...