Gadfly Bites 9/17/18 – Various reactions

  1. Media analysis of school report cards continued apace over the weekend and into today. First up, the usual thorough look at non-district schools’ data courtesy of Jeremy Kelley. Our own Aaron Churchill is quoted and two of Fordham’s sponsored charter schools are namechecked here. Kudos to Jeremy again this year for including the local STEM school’s report card data as well. (Dayton Daily News, 9/17/18)
     
  2. It is interesting to note in the above story how the analysis has turned quickly from just overall grades to some of the other report card measures –most specifically, test scores. Ditto for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. According to Patrick O’Donnell: “Cleveland students improved their test scores and narrowed the gap between them and the state average” this year. Some pretty darned good news, it seems, despite the relative lowness of those numbers overall. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/14/18)
     
  3. Of course, if the test scores numbers are not good news, we have a couple of standard responses. First up is the “inadvertent data error” charge. (Richland Source, 9/13/18) Or maybe it’s the “our kids are more than test scores” argument. With a side of apples and oranges. (Zanesville Times-Recorder, 9/14/18)
     
  4. Toledo City Schools opt for the “more than test scores” argument—hold the apples and oranges—but even the A-rated schools in suburban Perrysburg want their taxpayers to see beyond what is rated. (Toledo Blade, 9/13/18) However, it’s nothing but test score results at the moment for Michigan’s students, and the Blade is peering at them over Ohio’s northern border. Those numbers all seem pretty bad, generally. What’s the response from school officials? All of reactions noted above, mixed with earnest confusion: “Despite low SAT scores in some subjects, graduation rates remain strong in all three districts. Bedford and Whiteford are graduating 92 percent of their students, while Monroe is graduating 93 percent. The state average is 80 percent. Mrs. Orr said the disparity between students’ proficiency scores on state tests and graduation rates shows how M-STEP results ‘are certainly not showing the whole picture… One test on one day is not indicative of the product we are putting out there. We are really proud of our kids,’ she said. ‘We teach our kids a lot more things than what are assessed on those standardized assessments. I think we put way too much focus on testing and test data’.” Perhaps there’s some suppressed anger in there too. Maybe in all these pieces. (Toledo Blade, 9/16/18)
     
  5. Back here in Ohio, CEO Krish Mohip is highlighting some bright spots among the deeper recesses of Youngstown’s report card and calling it important progress. One member of the elected school board (probably the one who drew the short straw last meeting), is lowlighting one of the darker shadows in the report card and calling for Mohip’s resignation. Again. (Youngstown Vindicator, 9/15/18) Editors in Youngstown opined on the topic over the weekend. (Youngstown Vindicator, 9/16/18) Editors in Lorain opined on the topic as well, and not just in regard to Lorain City Schools. (Northern Ohio Morning Journal, 9/15/18)
     
  6. Our only non-report card story for the day comes from the sports page: Lorain City Schools’ new “state-of-the-art artificial turf” football field—yet another gift to the district from the owners of the Cleveland Browns—was dedicated Friday night. (Elyria Chronicle, 9/15/18)

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Jeff Murray
Jeff Murray is the Ohio Operations Manager of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute,