PLEASANT HILL — Last week, the Ohio Department of Education released its annual state report results and Newton Local School earned an overall grade of “C” as a district.
According to the state report card, Newton Local School district earned the following scores: “C” in Achievement; “D” in Progress; “A” in Gap Closing; “A” in Graduation Rate; “C” in K-3 At-Risk Readers; and “D” in Prepared for Success.
According to Superintendent Pat McBride, while the district reviews the schools scores and marks areas of improvement, he said the state report card “does not dictate our educational programming.”
“Every year we look at the areas with scores that are lower than anticipated and generate discussions regarding improvement. However, the state report card does not dictate our educational programming. It never has and never will. The tests are constantly changing and it is the proverbial ‘moving target,’” McBride said. “Our focus is and always will be providing each student at Newton the best possible education. We do not rely on one day’s worth of testing to drive significant change.”
Newton Local School earned an “A” in the Gap Closing component of the state report card. Gap Closing is the component that shows how well schools are meeting performance expectations for “vulnerable students.”
”Newton schools work hard to provide a well-rounded education for all subgroups of students. Parental support of curriculum along with their education here at Newton helps for all students to perform well without there being discrepancies between subgroups,” said McBride, regarding the Gap Closing component.
McBride said the district uses the Ohio Literacy Collaborative framework for reading since 2001. The district earned a “C” in the K-3 At-Risk Readers component. McBride said the grade was due to four students who needed to utilize alternative testing to pass the Third Grade Reading Guarantee which led to the lower grade.
Newton High School earned its lowest grade, a “D,” in the area of Prepared for Success and Progress.
”Newton does stress the importance of the ACT above and beyond the current state testing requirements,” McBride said. “We are currently discussing the conversations we have with our students regarding honors diplomas. This is a decision that the students make early in their high school scheduling career so that they get on the track of taking the correct courses to receive an honors diploma.”
McBride said the district has added dual enrollment (college and high school credit) courses to students at Newton High School and hopes to continue to grow that program in the coming years.
McBride gave two examples of how the state report card “is fraught with inaccuracies and largely measures useless data.”
”It is useless in the sense that no one uses it to drive district educational programming. The methodology is senseless. We know we give the ACT to all juniors whether a student is going to college or not. If a student isn’t going to college then what motivation would they have to do well on the test. None!” McBride said. “Another example is the eighth grade math test measures only the lowest of students in that grade level. Most students are taking Algebra I during their eighth grade year so it only (counts) those students who have remedial math skills who are taking that test. Yet, when it’s reported, one would think that it represents all eighth grade students and it doesn’t. The state report card is useless information for the most part because of a multitude of things like the two situations that I’ve listed.”
For a detailed breakdown of the Ohio State Report Card data, visit https://reportcard.education.ohio.gov/.
Reach Melanie Yingst at firstname.lastname@example.org
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