Reporting of Ohio NCLB test scores
This morning, mid-week of the beginning of school in most local school districts, the Ohio Department of Education released its state school district report cards based on the annual standardized test scores mandated by NCLB. This morning the Plain Dealer reports grades assigned to school districts, grades ranging from "Excellent with Distinction" to "Excellent" to "Effective" to "Continuous Improvement" to "Academic Watch" to "Academic Emergency." Youngstown is the only district in the state with the dismal distinction of Academic Emergency. The newspaper uses letter grades --- A, B, C, D, F --- as shorthand.
The "Excellent with Distinction" districts are for the most part outer-suburbs. Many are actually so far out they are not in Cuyahoga County itself but in Lake, Geauga, Summit, Medina, and Lorain Counties. Some are in the horsey country on Cleveland's far-east side. The "Excellent with Distinction" districts are uniformly wealthy and uniformly white.
In "Academic Watch" are Cleveland and Lorain, as well as East Cleveland and Warrensville Heights, two inner suburbs that have resegregated. Superintendents from several districts try to explain away their scores as they are interviewed --- problems with the special education subgroup, for example.
Clearly NCLB has not helped schools in our area region break the nexus between low achievement and hyper-segregation by race and poverty. Nowhere, however, does the Plain Dealer name this disturbing trend. Rather, it treats the ratings as letter grades awarded for school district quality. The message is that you ought to move your family, if you can afford it, to one of the outer-ring, excellent districts because that is the only place where a good education can be had.
Interestingly, the data published on the Plain Dealer site also allows the reader to search for and read the report card for each charter school, although those ratings are not covered in any of the reporting by the newspaper. Here is a sampling:
Important questions the newspaper fails to explore include:
I know this material is likely merely another version of what you are seeing in your own region, but I believe it is important for us to pay attention to what we see and understand locally. It is important that we insist on the naming of the truth.
Ms. Jan Resseger
Minister for Public Education and Witness
Justice and Witness Ministries
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