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State of Schools goes below the surface (Video, photo gallery)





In his annual State of the School address, Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon likened a quick inspection of CMSD’s academic performance to reading a Tweet: You get some truth but not enough detail to learn the whole story.

(See Twitter activity during the speech below.)

Speaking to a full ballroom Thursday at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel, Gordon ran through highlights from a new state report card released last week. While the report card gave CMSD an overall grade of F, the District has outpaced many of its peers in growth and progress on test scores, graduation rates, K-3 literacy improvement and closing achievement gaps.

The City Club hosted the event, which was live streamed by ideastream. To view, go here.

Gordon acknowledged that CMSD still has a lot of work to do as it carries out reforms in Cleveland’s Plan for Transforming Schools, also known as The Cleveland Plan. But in addition to displaying and referring to Twitter, he also quoted the old saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

“We haven’t arrived at our goal. And, yes, we still have a long way to go,” the CEO said “But, like Rome, The Cleveland Plan is the result of a vision. And like the Romans, the bricks we’ve laid, hour by hour, day by day, year by year, are the system we are designing and putting in place to achieve our dream.”

The CEO noted that the District now offers 36 different high school options, including early college, International Baccalaureate, performing arts, digital arts, aerospace and maritime, science and health, information technology and global studies. It also is implementing three new learning models in 13 PreK-8 schools.

He said the schools also are exploring ways to use advanced learning technologies, like virtual reality, that are being used by colleges, universities and corporations.

Cleveland is seeking to become the fourth U.S. affiliate of Say Yes to Education, an organization that would help the community provide college scholarships and coordinate services that keep students on track to graduation. Gordon said the Say Yes support system is the “right next step” to prepare CMSD students for college and careers and address problems such as “learning loss” that data shows they experience during summer.

The CEO fielded questions from the audience, including many from CMSD students. Students from more than 20 schools attended.

Bryanna, a seventh-grader at Wade Park PreK-8 School, asked how the District was changing its culture. Gordon said the administration and Cleveland Teachers Union are working collaboratively and central office employees have undergone training to create a “continuously improving organization.”

Wade Park Principal Lee Buddy Jr. brought nine students, most of them from Wade Park’s corps of school “ambassadors.” He said taking students to the speech each year helps them build a relationship with Gordon.

“They’re excited to come hear him,” Buddy said. “We’ve shifted from ‘Who’s this Mr. Gordon?’ to 'He’s our CEO.’ They know what he does.”

City Council President Kevin Kelley was among those in attendance. He said he agreed with Gordon’s description of the District's progress and liked his ambitious plans for the future.

“It’s important to know the nuance behind the state grade,” he said. “At the same time, we should not strive for just D’s.”

To read a text of the speech, go here.