Dayton Public sees literacy scores improve at the beginning of year

Scores rose from 16% last year to 23% this year.

Dayton Public School’s third-grade reading scores, a key metric in the state’s evaluation of how well schools are performing, are significantly higher than fall 2022 and are almost as high as what Dayton Public ended with at the end of last school year.

Third-grate literacy is a measurement of what percentage of third graders are reading at a “proficient” or above score. “Proficient” means meeting grade-level expectations in reading.

In October, about 23% of third-graders were proficient or above on state testing, while in October 2022, about 16% of third-graders were proficient or above.

The district is projecting that its end-of–the-year scores, which the state uses on report cards, will be higher than last year’s.

“That’s not where we want to end up,” said Lisa Minor, associate superintendent at DPS. “We’re shooting for higher than 22%. But the fact that we’re almost close to where we were last year for the whole year, we know we’re going to surpass what we did last year.”

The district recently unveiled an academic plan to get 65% of third-grade students at or above proficient by spring of 2025. So the district has a long way to go, but the team is celebrating where they can.

Dayton Public officials say those higher scores show the interventions they have put in place, including getting more students to attend school consistently, learning communities for teachers, and listening to what building staff say they think they should do with their own students.

Minor also credited the work the district’s community partners put in to drive concepts home and work the district did with parents to get kids practicing outside of school.

This year, the district upped their parent engagement staff from one person to three and increased messages from principals, superintendents and the district’s communications team. Minor said they’re already seeing more people reach out and be more involved this year.

“If we’re not true partners with the parents, there’s going to be a gap,” Minor said.

Akisha Shehee, chief academic officer for DPS, said the learning communities for teachers played a greater role, especially since Mindy Clark, the district’s director of accountability, got teachers set up with Ohio State Test banks of questions, which teachers could use to get their kids used to taking a test before the actual test day.

Judy Spurlock, the district’s chief of elementary schools, said the curriculum team worked with each school building this year to break down state report card data and figure out how to improve.

But Shehee also credited a “culture shift” at the district – one where instead of a top-down infrastructure where the central office tells schools what to do, the district asks schools what they need.

“When you allow people to do that, then you have leaders that flourish,” Shehee said. “They come up with ideas, they’re motivated. And then the sky’s the limit, because everybody has a voice.”

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