Officials with the Ohio Department of Education visited Trotwood School last week and helped identify several areas that needed improvement. However, school officials said some of the identified areas were already being addressed by the district.

Report card will decide whether state takes over Trotwood schools

District at risk of takeover; state report highlights 11 strengths, 16 “challenges”

But Ohio Department of Education officials said the law is clear that only the data in the district’s state report card, to be released in mid-September, will decide whether Trotwood is taken over. If Trotwood receives an overall grade of “F” on the state report card, an Academic Distress Commission will be appointed to run the district.

School board President Denise Moore said preliminary data puts Trotwood’s Performance Index, one key part of the state report card, at 49.5, up from 45.9 last year, but just below the cutoff to earn a “D” on that element. Trotwood ranked last in the state on that measure last year. But the 2017-18 data is preliminary, and other pieces of the report card that contribute to the overall grade, including student growth measures, are not clear yet.

“We’ve come a long way. We flipped it, from 45.9 to 49.5. That’s just five-tenths of a point away there, and value-added still has to be calculated,” Moore said. “But if we don’t get there, we’ve already had conversations (about) how can we make this model work, how can we align ourselves with an Academic Distress Commission and the state and a CEO and still help our students and our district progress. That’s all we want.”

Clairie Huff-Franklin, director of Academic Distress Commissions for the Ohio Department of Education, presented Trotwood’s school board with the results of April’s district review, when a team assigned by ODE spent a week in the district, working to identify areas of strength and areas for improvement.

Moore and board member Vanessa Jeter-Freeman repeatedly said Trotwood is not the same school district today that it was in April when ODE’s district review team visited, exactly one week after Tyrone Olverson was hired as interim superintendent.

The review identified 11 strengths and 16 “challenges” in the district. Strengths included collaboration with outside entities, academic programs outside the school day and strategies to support family engagement.

Challenges included failure to work with educators and parents on improvement plans and several issues of consistency — a lack of consistent coaching to teachers, a lack of consistent academic supports to certain students with disabilities, and the lack of a system to allocate grant money effectively.

“You had some wonderful comments on your strengths,” said state school board member Charlotte McGuire said to school leadership. “The challenges are more systemic – the old cliché of making sure you’re crossing your T’s and dotting your I’s. That’s what it comes down to.”

McGuire encouraged the community to keep moving forward with the attitude that Trotwood will turn things around. Olverson said the plan he put in place last spring and has been aggressively implementing, largely overlaps with the recommendations that came from the state support team.

The biggest question will be answered in mid-September, when the state report card is released, and Trotwood learns whether this school board and administration will lead the turnaround effort, or whether state law requires a Distress Commission to be formed to start again.