Trotwood-Madison and Jefferson Twp. schools each ranked last of Ohio’s 608 school districts on one of the primary measures of the state report cards that were released Thursday.
Trotwood ranked last in performance index, which is the most detailed measure of state test performance. Trotwood’s 45.9 percent score was the lowest in the state, with Dayton’s 47.6 percent the second-worst.
Only six other school districts scored below 50 percent (an “F” grade), including Youngstown and Cleveland. Jefferson Twp. and Northridge also fell in the bottom 25 districts in the state.
Trotwood Superintendent Kevin Bell said this year’s results mean Trotwood could be at risk of state takeover as soon as summer 2018 if results from next spring’s state tests don’t improve.
“I’m a little bit surprised that the performance turned out where it is,” Bell said. “I’ve seen some of the efforts that have happened instructionally in our classrooms, I know our teachers work really hard. … I think there was a belief that we were making greater progress with student learning than the test results showed.”
Jefferson Twp. ranked last in the state in four-year graduation rate, at 50 percent. No other district in Ohio was below 65 percent. Springfield was at 66 percent, and Dayton was at 72 percent, down slightly from last year.
The graduation rates are reported on a one-year lag, so the four-year rate measures students who would have normally become the class of 2016.
Jefferson Twp. is one of the state’s smallest school districts, with just over 400 students from K-12. The district’s five-year graduation rate, tracking students who would have normally become the class of 2015, was much higher at 86 percent.
Other areas where local districts struggled on the state report card included student progress (year-over-year growth) where Trotwood was sixth-worst in Ohio, and “prepared for success,” where Jefferson Twp. was fifth-worst, and Dayton and Trotwood also fell in the bottom 20.
Superintendent Rhonda Corr said Dayton Public Schools are not where they want to be, but she ran through a litany of ongoing changes – new textbooks, a system of teacher-leaders, better on-time busing, more educational technology – that she said will deliver results in the short-term and as part of a 3-5 year turnaround.
“The expectation for next year is that we will be much higher because we’ve put so many things in place that will help children succeed and give teachers the resources they need,” Corr said.
Education analysts have long pointed to the correlation between poverty and poor test performance, arguing that school quality may not be the primary factor in the scores. Most of the districts that struggled on this report card are low-income areas.