While Westlake School District received three “D’s” on the revamped state report card issued on Aug. 22, school superintendent Dr. Dan Keenan expressed some frustration, but added the administration will review the information to determine if the letter grades are representative of a trend or a margin of error.
He also indicated the "grades" do not reflect high performance of students.
The Ohio Department of Education now issues letter grades from A to F in nine categories. Several categories are graded not on performance but growth in the category.
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The district received “D’s” on gifted student value added, disabled student value added and lower 20 percent value added. Those three areas Keenan noted, were graded on growth, but students are already performing at a very high level.
“The margin is very tight at the top,” Keenan said.
For middle school gifted students, 98.1 percent achieved excellent or advanced. That percentage, however, is slightly lower that the previous year.
“That group was given an “F” in progress,” Keenan said. “When you get in the 90s, such as 97 to 98, a small decrease can result in an F.”
He noted that moving from an 97 percent to a 96.9 could result in a “D” grade since it’s based on growth.
A tennis analogy
Keenan used tennis to explain how even high performing students could rate a state-issued "D."
"Here's an example I've been using," Keenan said. "If I won the state tennis championshipsin straight sets, 6-1, 6-1 and the next year I win the state championship in 6-3, 6-3. I would get an "A" in achievement but a D or F in progress. We're still reaching the objective."
Disable students performing close to rest of student body
He also pointed to the “D” for disabled
students, in part graded on how disabled students are performing in comparison
to the rest of the student body, and if they are closing the gap.
“The special ed students are very close to the norm for the average student,” Keenan said. That subgroup earned a “B.” “But we’re very close to the norm for the average student, however we’re also measured on growth and progress.
“I’m not sure a D is the best representation but it points that we didn’t grow.”
He did not dismiss the need to evaluate annually.
“We understand the need for all students to improve and reach their potential,” Keenan said. “I’d put our special needs and gifted programs up against anybody’s.”
The report card grades will be used for
assessment in the district.
He noted in particular, the gifted students have excelled on a national level.
How Westlake scored
- Standards met A
- Performance index B
- Value added* A
- Gifted student value added D
- Disabled student value added D
- AMO (Formerly AYP)** B
- Lower 20 percent value added *** D
- 4-year graduation rate B
- 5-year graduation rate A
*Value added measures whether students in grades
4-8 exceeded, met or learned below what was expected over the year in reading
**Annual Measurable Objectives (AMO) replaces the federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) measure that looked at the performance of multiple racial and disability groups.
***The lowest 20 percent examines how much growth the bottom fifth of students have from year to year.