This August, the Ohio Department of Education released new report cards providing ratings for Ohio schools. The new report cards measure both schoolwide achievement, as well as progress towards reaching statewide goals for students with disabilities, gifted students and low-achieving students and in closing achievement gaps between students of different racial and socio-economic groups. Schools were given grades of A to F in nine areas. These areas include how students score on state tests, the percentage of students passing state tests, the progress made in one school year, high school graduation rates and progress towards closing five gaps in achievement between groups of students. Next year’s report cards will include two additional categories: K-3 literacy and “Prepared For Success.” To begin, schools will only receive grades in these categories, with overall grades phased back in in 2015.
State officials argue that the change will make it easier for schools to see both strengths and areas for improvement, even in schools with high overall grades. Critics of the new report cards suggests that the ratings may unfairly penalize more diverse schools, as they have to score well in more categories than less diverse schools to receive high grades. Schools must have at least 30 students in the achievement gap category being evaluated in order to have the measure included in their report card. They are also concerned that the absence of overall grades may create difficulties for parents wanting to evaluate different school districts.