State board, proposed law both seek changes to school report card

The state school board on Tuesday asked the state legislature not to use an overall letter grade to define Ohio schools on the fall 2018 state report card.

Later in the day, legislators in the Ohio House Education Committee held a first hearing on House Bill 591, which would take away the overall letter grade, among other moves.

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The state report card, which grades schools and districts on test performance, graduation rates and other markers, has been adding new measures for years, and was scheduled to add the overall “composite score” for the 2017-18 report cards scheduled for release in September.

The resolution introduced Tuesday by state school board member Kara Morgan argues that the public has “widespread skepticism” about the report card’s meaningfulness as a measure of the quality of schools and districts.

Some school board members said the idea of a single label – calling one school system a “B” district, or another an “F” school – could be overly simplistic and further alienate educators and residents from the report card process.

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The resolution passed by a 12-6 vote, with all state board members in the Dayton-Springfield-Hamilton area (Charlotte McGuire, Nick Owens, Pat Bruns) voting in favor.

House Bill 591, sponsored by Rep. Mike Duffey, R-Worthington, would be a major reform in the state report card, and Morgan argued it would be prudent to put the overall letter grade on hold until that legislative discussion is complete.

At the first hearing on on the bill in the House Education Committee on Tuesday, three key groups — the Ohio School Boards Association, Buckeye Association of School Administrators and Ohio Association of School Business Officials — testified in favor of the measure, supporting the bill’s call to use raw scores, and eliminate the use of letter grades.

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The bill would also change how Ohio calculates graduation rates, student growth, and third-grade reading success.

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