Saturday, August 19, 2006

Is the district really excellent?

Ohio's state-mandated tests purport to show student abilities relative to state academic standards, the test scores are hence a true measure of student achievement and knowledge. In addition, as an aggregate score, the tests are supposed to show the educational outcomes - product - of Ohio's school districts. At least that's the spin.

As a member of ODE's Grade 4 Writing Content Advisory Committee, I have been involved in the creation of state test items. I know firsthand that the tests do not reveal what they claim to show. When a district gets a high report card score and designation, it doesn't follow that high achievement really occurred. But don't take my word for it; go to the gatekeepers and third-party evaluators for a second opinion.

Olentangy is a state-designated excellent school district, but what does that really mean? According to the latest High Transition Report from the Ohio Board of Regents, 37% of Olentangy graduates attending one of Ohio's public colleges or universities required remedial course work. In addition, ACT - the organization that produces the ACT assessment - provides districts with a College Readiness Report [1] that shows only 36% of Olentangy graduates were prepared for college in all four subjects analyzed (English composition, algebra, social science, and biology).

Both the reports should be reason for pause when celebrating the district's state designation of excellence, especially in light of the district's mission statement and failed AYP status. These report should also be reason to pressure the board and administration for better performance. Tax dollars and student futures are on the line.

[1] ACT does not make this report available on its web site, but you can request a copy of the original from the district.

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