COLUMBUS, OH – As the Ohio General Assembly continues to debate legislation to improve the state’s report card system for rating the performance of individual schools and districts, Ohio Excels has joined education leaders who are voicing their support for reforms proposed in Senate Bill 145.
Since the 2012-2013 school year, the state has rated school performance with letter grades, A through F. That system was adopted to help give parents and the public an easily understood way to measure their schools’ performance compared to the previous system, which used ambiguous text descriptions.
Knowing the importance of a report card system that clearly and fairly evaluates schools and school districts while giving parents and communities insight into how well their schools are helping students learn, Ohio Excels worked closely with the Alliance for High Quality Education, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, the Ohio Association for Gifted Children, Columbus City Schools, and the Ohio 8 Coalition to improve the state’s report card. These discussions sought to create a report card that ensures equity and makes sure every student counts, ensures each component is more accurate, predictable, and fair, and streamlines the report card to improve transparency and offer clear, honest information for parents and the public.
Ohio Excels President Lisa Gray said that Senate Bill 145 achieves those goals. “Thanks to Senator Andrew Brenner’s leadership, Senate Bill 145 will be more accurate, fair and transparent, serving to prioritize the success of all students,” said Gray during testimony Wednesday before the Senate Primary and Secondary Education Committee.
“While we have long supported using A-F letter grades, a rating system popular with parents, who are the primary audience of report cards, we believe using 1-5 stars will be an effective way to communicate student outcomes. Maintaining five performance levels on the report card through a new star system will allow for comparisons over time so we can identify trends and growth. Keeping five levels also allows for simple updates to more than a dozen state policies that rely on report card results.”
Gray said Senate Bill 145 also streamlines the report card by reducing the number of measures to focus on those that best measure student outcomes. The legislation also includes a new Early Literacy Component to ensure that there is a strong focus on reading, the most important and necessary foundational education skill. That component uses actual measures of reading proficiency – diagnostic and state assessments – to ensure an accurate and comparable view of reading proficiency. The proposal also includes a component that measures how well schools and districts prepare our students above and beyond the graduation requirements for the next step in their lives after high school. Parents have expressed that both of these components are important.