Much of the disconnect stems from the fact that Ohio’s report cards are based on standardized tests, a single data point taken each spring. Research shows that standardized tests track closely with a district’s level of poverty. About a third of Shaker’s students are identified as coming from low-income households, based on federal free and reduced lunch standards. While poverty should not be used as an excuse for academic failure, educators agree poverty is a significant barrier to successful learning. Shaker, however, is working diligently to minimize and remove that barrier. An analysis conducted last fall by Kyle Newton, superintendent of the Warren Local School District, seems to drive home that point. Using state data, Newton found that no school with more than an 18 percent poverty rate received an “A” on Indicators Met. In Ohio, 524 school districts and 83 percent of the schools have poverty rates that exceed 18 percent. Only two districts in the state received an “A” on the Performance Index Score. One of those districts has a zero percent poverty rate; the other has a poverty rate of nine percent. None of the 100 poorest schools, based on property valuation, received above a “D” or an “F” on Indicators Met. “Testing doesn’t measure intelligence, it measures wealth,” says State Board of Education member Meryl Johnson, whose district includes Shaker Heights. “We know good things are happening in our schools, and the State Report Card does not reflect that. It’s driving the public away from our public schools, and I think that’s dangerous and unfair.” SHAKER LIFE | SPRING 2017 57 Why The State Report Card Doesn’t Measure What Matters Achievement FACT: Academic achievement cannot be measured by a single data point taken on a single date. No district with more than an 18 percent poverty rate received an A on Indicators Met. Only two districts in the state received an A on the Performance Index Score. Gap Closing FACT: Shaker’s Five-Year Strategic Plan identifies achievement gaps and has put strategies in place to close those gaps, such as developing a District-wide curriculum, building high-quality instruction through professional learning, the Innovative Center for Personalized Learning, and Shaker’s First Class. K-3 Literacy FACT: All Shaker third graders were promoted to the fourth grade, based on the state’s own standards. Graduation Rate FACT: Shaker’s graduation rate has risen steadily from 83 percent in 2011-12 to 90.6 percent in 2015-16. Prepared for Success FACT: In 2016, Shaker grads were accepted at top colleges and universities – including all Ivy League colleges – and scored well above national averages on SAT and ACT exams.
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