None of Fulton County’s seven school districts emerged unscathed from the 2014-15 state report cards released last week by the Ohio Board of Education.
Fayette Local Schools were the hardest hit, receiving a grade above C in only one of the report’s six graded categories. But each of the county’s school districts received at least one disappointing score.
The categories include: Achievement, which combines the Performance Index and Indicators Met in referencing how well students performed on state testing; Gap Closing, indicating how well students do in reading, math, and graduation; K-3 Literacy, charting how many more students in those grades learn to read; Progress, which contains a Value-Added indicator and maps average progress in math and reading for grades 4-8; Graduation Rate, offering statistics for four- and five-year high school students; and Prepared for Success, indicating how well graduates are prepared for college or a career.
An ungraded category, Financial Data, reports on district spending per classroom instructor and student.
In the graded categories, all of the county’s districts reflected at least one poor grade.
• Archbold Area Schools – D in K-3 Literacy and Cs in the Value-Added subcategories of Progress, which received an overall B grade. The district received an A for 97 percent of in Indicators Met.
• Evergreen Local Schools – C in Gap Closing and one D and two Fs in the Value-Added subcategories of Progress, which received an overall F grade. The district received an A for 90.6 percent in Indicators met.
• Fayette Local Schools – C grades in Gap Closing and K-3 Literacy, a C in the Achievement category’s Performance Index, and an F in the overall Value-Added subcategory. The district received a D for 57.6 percent in Indicators Met.
• Pike-Delta-York Local Schools – D in Gap Closing and Cs in K-3 Literacy and the four-year subcategory in Graduation Rate. The district did well in Progress, scoring an A overall. It received a B for 84.8 percent in Indicators Met.
• Pettisville Local Schools – F in the overall Value-Added subcategory. The district scored well in the other graded categories, and received an A for 90.6 percent in Indicators met.
• Swanton Local Schools – Ds in the Gap Closing and K-3 Literacy cateories, and a C for the four-year graduation rate. The district received a B for 84.8 percent in Indicators Met.
• Wauseon Village Exempted Schools – F for overall Value-Added. The district scored well in other graded categories, and received an A for 97 percent in Indicators Met.
“The report is a joke,” Fayette Superintendent Erik Belcher said flatly. “We’re not taking it serious. I haven’t looked at it, and I don’t care to look at it. It sends the wrong message.”
Belcher said he’s upset because the 2014-15 district report card is based on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), the state’s former Common Core testing consortium. It was voted out of use by legislators last June after overwhelming complaints by parents.
“It’s terribly inaccurate. It’s not reflective of anything. It’s based on flawed data,” he said.
In a small school district such as Fayette, only one mistake in data involving one or two students “changes the ball game considerably,” Belcher said. “I think it’s ridiculous that (the ODE) even put it out this year.”
He said if he appeals the state’s findings the reason will be simply to send the message that the information is wrong. He said the sheer number of Ohio school districts appealing due to incorrect data shows the process is skewed.
“And when the entire process is skewed you lose faith in the system,” he said.
Belcher blamed the problem on a “political ping-pong match going on with the Ohio Board of Education.”
Wauseon Superintendent Larry Brown said, based on the lack on consistency, “the new and already abolished assessments used for this report card period and a general lack of confidence in the data itself, Wauseon Schools will only utilize the recently released 2014-2015 district report card data as one of many reports necessary to evaluate areas of improvement for our students.”
Brown said he’s proud of the efforts put forth by the Wauseon school community. He noted that, despite the ODE’s new mandates, testing, and processes the school district still met 97 percent of the performance indicators.
Ted Haselman, Pike-Delta-York superintendent, said the district’s report card does reveal areas in need of improvement, such as Gap Closing and K-3 Literacy. But he said it’s important to remember the total report card is the measuring stick used.
“One thing I can guarantee, the entire P-D-Y staff will be working to improve in all areas for all students of the district,” he said.
However, the state report card doesn’t encompass the entire P-D-Y learning experience, Haselman said.
“Is it important? Sure. Is it the end-all be-all? Absolutely not,” he said. “We do so much more at P-D-Y that we are proud of that will never end up on an ODE state report card. Things such as the fact that Delta High School is home to an award-winning National FFA Organization program, boasting 72 state FFA degrees and 15 American FFA degrees, or the number of exploratory classes available to students at Delta Middle School.
“I would tell the parents of the P-D-Y district that I will guarantee them the expectation is to improve each and every day. We will continue to move the bar.”
In a letter sent to educators and school boards, District 2 Senator Randy Gardner stated: “Ohio’s report cards this year do not fairly reflect what is going on in many of our schools and classrooms. In many cases they do not measure the positive work being done by our teachers and other education professionals. The public deserves better information and our schools deserve a more accurate public report on how they are serving our communities and our children.”
Belcher said he wants parents to send their children to Fayette schools not only for the quality education the report card doesn’t reflect, but for the district’s nurturing atmosphere that prepares students for life. “That’s the most important thing,” he said.
David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.