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CEO comments on new report card


The Ohio Department of Education released its report card data for the 2015-16 school year Thursday. The results, while disappointing, are not unexpected.  Scores have dropped statewide after the state changed its tests for the third time in three years and again raised the thresholds for proficiency.

CMSD's performance-index scores declined at rates similar to those of other urban districts. CMSD and other districts also experienced declines in value-added, the measure of whether students achieved the amount of growth that the state projected for them in one year.

The value-added calculation was complicated by the change in tests and the addition of more subjects and grades. CMSD's decrease in that area was surprising, given that students previously achieved value-added at a time when many peers across the state failed to do so.

"The data for Cleveland is particularly disappointing, given the fact that our educators and students have worked so hard to raise achievement and we have seen so many other signs of our improvement," Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon said. "We are reviewing the data carefully in our efforts to continually assess which of our Cleveland Plan strategies are working and to affirm or adjust our priorities."

Gordon said the District was encouraged by data showing its four-year graduation rate rose another 3 percentage points and reached yet another record high, 69.1 percent -- a 17 point increase over the last five years. Five schools had graduation rates of 100 percent: Cleveland School of the Arts, Whitney Young, Cleveland School of Science and Medicine, Cleveland School of Architecture and Design and Cleveland Early College High School.

This is in addition to the Higher Education Compact of Greater Cleveland's findings that college remediation rates for CMSD graduates declined by 10 percent in the last year alone and that passage rates for those students who need remediation increased by 15 percent. Also, 8.3 percent of CMSD high school students take college-level courses, nearly triple the statewide rate of 2.8 percent.

The District's average daily attendance increased to more than 91 percent, the result of the successful "Get 2 School. You Can Make It!" campaign to reduce chronic absenteeism.

For a third year in a row, 85 percent or more of CMSD third-graders met expectations of Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee and earned promotion to fourth grade. Each time, the proficiency rate began the year at about 30 percent. The promotion rate exceeded those of three other urban districts: Canton, Cincinnati and Toledo.

Success can be seen in varied individual schools like Glenville High School, Marion-Sterling, the Cleveland School of Science and Medicine, Clark, Newton D. Baker, Charles W. Eliot and the Cleveland School of Architecture and Design that achieved more growth in a year than the state projected.

Gordon said the overall report-card results underscore the importance of sticking with the reforms CMSD undertook four years ago under The Cleveland Plan.

The District has seen improvements that the report card does not reflect.

School culture and climate, have improved, as evidenced by "conditions for learning" surveys that show students feel safer, more supported and challenged by instruction in their schools.

And parent participation is high -- 90.9 percent of parents and caregivers met with their children's teachers last year, up from 73.2 percent two years earlier.

The need for districts to stay focused on their achievement goals and not be frustrated by results on this one measure was emphasized by State Superintendent Paolo Demaria when he presented this year’s report card results to the State Board of Education:

"There will likely be a lot of frustration expressed as a result of this release," Demaria said.  "It's difficult when schools are working hard and seeing improvement locally but not yet seeing that growth reflected on the state report cards."

"Nevertheless, I am hopeful for our students, schools and districts because I believe they have what it takes to succeed," he said. "I hope that communities will keep these results in perspective, that they will gauge the quality of their districts not only by what they see on the report cards but by other information about what is happening in schools and with students."