School awards trigger celebrations, criticism of standards

Dozens of local schools last week received honors tied to the state report card — for getting all A’s, showing academic growth or grading well while serving disadvantaged students.

But some administrators’ continued unhappiness with state testing and report card standards was also on display as the awards came out.

The Bellbrook, Oakwood, Springboro and Wayne Local districts received the Overall-A Award for being among the 4.6 percent of districts statewide to earn an overall grade of “A” on the 2017-18 state report card. Individual schools in Beavercreek, Kettering, Tipp City and other districts also won the award.

RELATED: Graduation rate up, but 15 percent fall short despite options

Seven local districts — Brookville, Centerville, Miami East, Miamisburg, Northmont, Piqua and Valley View — were among the 11.5 percent that earned the State Board of Education’s Momentum Award. That honor goes to districts that exceed expectations by earning straight A’s on all student growth measures.

Many schools celebrate the honors, which come with banners to hang in the halls. On its Facebook page, Beavercreek schools said having five individual schools win the Overall-A honor “highlights the high academic standards Beavercreek City Schools are known for and maintain.” Tipp City Schools said on social media they are “so proud of our students, staff and families!”

But the recognition also comes at a time when many educators are unhappy with Ohio’s focus on standardized testing and the report card system that summarizes those tests.

STUDY: Child abuse rose when report cards went home on Fridays

Jim Lloyd, superintendent of Olmsted Falls schools in the Cleveland area, is among a statewide group of superintendents pushing for changes. Lloyd, whose schools won three Overall-A awards and one All-A’s Award, said Ohio’s testing system “shrinks the curriculum, is socio-economically biased and creates undue anxiety for students and families.”

“I will promptly stamp a ‘Return to Sender’ for (any award) we receive like this,” Lloyd wrote in a Twitter post that’s been liked close to 200 times. “Our schools, kids, teachers and administrators are not defined by test scores — good, bad or otherwise.”

Wayne Local Superintendent Pat Dubbs took a balanced approach to the issue, celebrating the report card success of students and staff, but adding that the district also aims for a well-rounded education offering a wide range of opportunities for students, with individualized instruction, enrichment, and support.

EDUCATION: Local schools win award for serving military families

“We are focused on helping our students succeed in an educational environment of raised expectations,” Dubbs said. “We also acknowledge that the state report card is not the only way to determine success.”

Springboro Superintendent Dan Schroer said his district is honored to be selected, calling it “a community honor” because of all the people who work to improve student performance.

Five local schools won a separate Ohio Department of Education designation, as High Progress Schools of Honor. Those were William Bruce Elementary in Eaton, Bear and Jane Chance elementaries in Miamisburg, Washington Primary in Piqua and the Horizon Science Academy Dayton Downtown charter school.

Winning schools have at least 40 percent of students economically disadvantaged and hit three academic markers — top 10 percent in Ohio the past five years in English and math proficiency improvement, only A’s and B’s in overall student growth the past three years, and a “C” or better in 2018 for closing academic gaps between groups of students.

“Ohio’s students can do amazing things, and these schools are creating the right conditions to close achievement gaps and address the issues that sometimes prevent students from taking full advantage of educational opportunities,” said Paolo DeMaria, state superintendent of public instruction.

Individual school winners

Overall A Award

Beavercreek (Shaw Elementary, Trebein Elementary, Valley Elementary; Coy Middle School, Ankeney Middle School)

Centerville (Primary Village North, Magsig Middle School, Watts Middle)

Oakwood (Lange School, Oakwood Junior High, Oakwood High School)

Springboro (Springboro Intermediate, Clearcreek Elementary)

Tipp City (Nevin Coppock Elementary, LT Ball Intermediate)

Wayne Local (Waynesville Elementary, Waynesville Middle)

Bellbrook (Stephen Bell Elementary)

Brookville (Brookville Intermediate)

Dayton (Rosa Parks Early Learning Center)

Kettering (Indian Riffle Elementary)

Miami East (Miami East Junior High)

Miamisburg (Medlar View Elementary)

Valley View (Valley View Intermediate)

Vandalia-Butler (Smith Middle School)

Momentum Award

Miami East (Miami East Junior High, Miami East High School)

West Carrollton (Schnell Elementary, Russell Elementary)

Brookville (Brookville Intermediate)

Centerville (Watts Middle School)

Charter school (Klepinger Community School)

Eaton (William Bruce Elementary)

Miamisburg (Medlar View Elementary)

Piqua (Piqua Central Intermediate)

Springboro (Springboro Intermediate)

Valley View (Valley View Intermediate)

Vandalia-Butler (Smith Middle School)

High Progress Schools of Honor

Miamisburg (Bear Elementary, Jane Chance Elementary)

Eaton (William Bruce Elementary)

Piqua (Washington Primary)

Charter school (Horizon Science Academy Dayton Downtown)

About the Author