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State report finds progress under Cleveland Plan



The Cleveland Metropolitan School District faces challenges but is making progress under The Cleveland Plan, the Ohio Department of Education says in a report released Wednesday.

The report, submitted to Gov. John Kasich and legislators, was required by the 2012 state law that cleared the way for The Cleveland Plan, a customized blueprint for education reform in the city. State approval of the plan spared CMSD from state takeover five years ago.

The Department of Education said the District improved academic achievement last school year and has increased preschool enrollment, improved its graduates’ college and career readiness and given principals more control of spending.

The report points out that the state has changed its testing system twice and adopted more rigorous learning standards since The Cleveland Plan was adopted.

Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon welcomed the announcement but repeated his previous acknowledgement that the District has “a long way to go.” He said he was pleased that the Department of Education did not recommend further intervention.

“We are not yet meeting Ohio’s new high standards, but we are improving,” said the CEO. “We are significantly better than we were when we implemented The Cleveland Plan.

While CMSD’s most recent report card shows an overall grade of F, the District’s performance index, a composite of all test scores, increased for the first time in a decade and came within 1 percentage point of a D. Cleveland’s K-3 literacy grade jumped from an F to a C, showing more growth than 88 of Ohio’s 609 districts.

CMSD’s four-year high school graduation rate reached another record high, 72.1 percent, and is up nearly 20 points in the last six years. The rate is the third fastest growing in the state during that period and the fastest growing of Ohio’s large urban districts.

The Cleveland Transformation Alliance, which monitors school progress, also sees signs of hope.

In a report issued Nov. 9, the organization cited the rising graduation rate and improving K-3 literacy, as well as stabilizing enrollment, but called for new strategies to strengthen low-performing schools, especially at the K-8 level. Gordon has said the report card shows the need to continue improving in the early grades and high school while bearing down on strategies for the fourth through eighth grades.

In his recent State of the Schools Address, Gordon called for CMSD to move beyond creating pockets of excellence and become the first major city in the United States to raise performance across the board.

He urged support for Cleveland’s ongoing efforts to become the nation’s fourth chapter of “Say Yes to Education.” The program aligns community services to keep students on track to graduation and provides scholarships that help fill gaps in tuition for college or other postsecondary education.

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