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Nov
26
2022
Village Schools

District report card suggests losses for YS Schools

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There is no denying that the continuing COVID-19 pandemic — currently affecting a third consecutive school year — has exacted a toll on children’s education. With no clear end in sight, the scope of the pandemic’s impact on academic progress is only beginning to be assessed.

An early measure in Ohio, however, is data contained in the latest district report card, released this fall and based in large part on the results of standardized tests administered last spring, along with other data from the 2020–21 school year.

Of the state’s 607 school districts for which report cards were recently issued, 601 experienced a drop — some by as much as 30 percentage points — in their performance score from two years before, when ratings were last compiled.

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There were no performance numbers for the intervening year, as the Ohio General Assembly canceled spring testing for the 2019–20 academic year in recognition of the state-mandated school closings at the time. A limited report that looked at such data as truancy, absenteeism and graduation rates was subsequently released in the fall a year ago, but no letter grades were assigned, as had been the practice for the previous several years.

The letter grades were eliminated again for this fall’s report cards, as were statewide rankings, but the class level and subject test results that previously determined a district’s performance rating were included. Before the pandemic, Yellow Springs last received a “C” overall for the 2018–19 school year, having attained a score of 89.631 out of 120 possible points (74.7%), compared to a “B” the year before, with 93.956 points (78.3%), indicating a drop even before the pandemic.

Like almost every school district in the state, all seven districts in Greene County showed a decrease in scores from 2018–19 to 2020–21. Yellow Springs’ most recent score was 83.5 points out of a possible 120 (69.6%), representing a drop of five percentage points.

In comparison, Beavercreek went from a score of 99.345 to 92.289; Bellbrook-Sugarcreek moved from 102.5 to 96.493; Cedar Cliff received 96.975, compared to 92.507; Fairborn fell from 92.38 to 67.108; Greeneview went from 88.66 to 82.5; and Xenia dropped from 81.098 to 70.542.

“While we do not have as much information as we normally would, schools and districts can use the data in this year’s report cards to guide decisions about where and how to focus time, efforts and resources that will best serve their students,” Stephanie K. Siddens, the interim state superintendent of public instruction, said in a public statement.

Digging into Yellow Springs’ individual grade-level and subject test scores, the percentage of students passing each test — having received an 80% or higher — fell in most cases, particularly in the younger grades, with some higher scores achieved at the eighth grade and high school levels.

Particularly striking were the differences in the third and fourth grade test scores, which focus on English and math. The third-grade English score went from 81.3% passing, to 60%; and math results fell from 75% passing to 63.3%. For the fourth grade, English results went from 79.5% passing in 2018–19 to 64.1% for 2020–21, and math scores fell from 92.3% passing to 53.8%.

Fifth-grade results remained comparable to the previous report card, with English scores moving from 88.1% passing to 87.5% and math scores staying relatively flat at 74.6% in 2018–19 and 74.5% most recently. Science proficiency is also part of fifth-grade testing, and that area showed a positive turn, increasing from 71.2% of students passing to 81.3%.

Sixth-grade passage rates dropped about 10 percentage points in both English and math, 79.7% to 69.6% in English and 65.2% to 55.8% in math. Seventh-grade test scores remained about the same — with the passage rate at about 79% in English and in the mid-50% range in math.

Improved passage rates came in eighth-grade math, which rose from 34.2% students passing to 48.5%; and high school American U.S. government, moving from 83.1% passing to 90%, American U.S. history, from 84.5% to 86.5%, and English Language Arts II, moving from 74.6% to 76.6%. A change in math course offerings at the high school makes comparisons not possible.

Algebra I and geometry, previously not offered as distinct courses, saw 56.1% and 34.8% passage rates, respectively.

School districts can expect another change in next year’s report cards, after the General Assembly passed legislation this past summer to discontinue letter grades in favor of a one- to five-star scale, along with several other revisions to the annual reports, which have long been criticized by educators across the state who point to inequities in testing and scoring rubrics that favor larger and wealthier districts.

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