Facing facts: Ohio's school report cards in a time of rising expectations

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On February 25, 2016, Ohio released report cards for the 2014-15 school year—the first in which the state administered next generation assessments. In conjunction with these new exams, state officials raised the minimum test score needed for students to be deemed “proficient.” As a result of these transitions, proficiency and achievement-based ratings fell across the state—a necessary reset of basic accountability measures in a time of rising expectations. This year’s report provides an overview of these changes, along with a presentation of data from national exams, suggesting that policymakers should go further to match Ohio’s definition of proficiency with a true college and career ready benchmark.

Since 2005, the Fordham Institute has conducted annual analyses of Ohio’s school report cards, with a particular focus on the performance of urban schools, both district and charter. This year’s analysis again takes a deep-dive look at the student achievement and school quality in the Ohio Big Eight areas. The key findings are as follows:

  • College and career readiness rates are extremely low in Ohio’s high-poverty urban areas—in the Big Eight cities, roughly 10 to 25 percent of students are reaching rigorous benchmarks.
  • According to the state’s achievement-based school ratings, urban schools almost universally receive low ratings (Ds and Fs). But when examining results from Ohio’s student growth measure (value added), variation in school quality emerges. Both urban charter and district schools receive high value added ratings, indicating the presence of schools that are helping students catch up with their peers.
  • Still, too many students in urban areas are trapped in low quality schools (receiving poor ratings on both the performance index and value added). Taken together, approximately 150,000 students in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, and Dayton attend a low-quality school.

Download the report to learn more about the performance of Ohio’s public schools, statewide and in its eight largest urban areas.