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Strength in Diversity John Morris, a high school English teacher and president of the Shaker Heights Teachers Association, said the vast majority of teachers are deeply troubled by the State Report Card. Morris says teachers do not believe the grades represent the unique talents and abilities that their students possess. “Many teachers find that the State Report Card favors districts with more homogeneous ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic school communities that teach more directly to tests and that do not value the diversity of student populations and educational experiences in the ways that Shaker does,” Morris says. “We know that diversity presents its challenges, but ultimately it represents the strength of our district. The State Report Card does not reflect this reality.” Educators also complain that the test on which State Report Card grades are based has been changed for three consecutive years, as have the state’s learning objectives and benchmarks. Research shows that when a test is changed, scores almost always go down. Former State Board of Education member Roslyn Painter-Goffi says it is important to put the State Report Card in its proper context. Painter-Goffi, whose tenure on the state board ended last year, said the report card is “just one snapshot” of a school district’s performance and quality. “Our whole testing system environment over the past three years has been in a state of flux,” Painter-Goffi told The Plain Dealer in September. “These endless changes make it difficult for districts to compare results from previous years. It is by no means the only indicator of how well a district is doing.” State education officials acknowledge that the report card is complicated and – with many educators – unpopular. When current report cards were released last 58 SHAKERONLINE.COM | SPRING 2017 fall, Paulo DeMaria, Superintendent of Public Instruction, needed a 32-slide PowerPoint to explain how the document worked. “There will likely be a lot of frustration expressed as a result of this release,” DeMaria said at the time. “It’s difficult when schools are working hard and seeing improvement locally but not yet seeing that growth reflected on the State Report Cards.” Some superintendents fear the nuances of the measurements are lost on some of the general public, many of whom use the document to assess whether to move to a community and purchase a home. “It’s our most public document,” says Linda Reid, superintendent of the South Euclid-Lyndhurst School District. “It’s what Zillow and real estate agents look at. That’s our reality.”


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