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The state report cards released Sept. 15 "are flawed," according to Tallmadge City School District Superintendent Jeff Ferguson.
The Ohio Department of Education gave letter grades to each school district in 10 separate categories. Tallmadge received two As, one C, three Ds and four Fs in the 2015-16 ratings.
"I'm disappointed certainly by the grades that we received, but I am not disappointed in the hard work of our students and our staff," Ferguson told the Tallmadge Express in a telephone conversation Sept. 15. "I just really believe this report card does not accurately reflect the quality of education we provide our students."
The district met 18 out of 29 indicators (62.1 percent), earning a grade of D in that category. The district garnered a C in the Performance Index category (earning 88.5 of a possible 120 points or 73.8 percent). The district earned an F in the category of overall Progress, which measured the progress for all students in math, science, social studies and ELA in grades 4 through 8.
Breaking down the Progress category into subgroups, Tallmadge received an F in terms of gifted students, a D for students in the lowest 20 percent and an F in students with disabilities.
The district earned a D in K-3 Literacy,an F for Gap Closing (44.4 percent of objectives met) and two As for four-year (96.6 percent) and five-year (99.5 percent) graduation rates.
The state superintendent, Ferguson says, acknowledges the state testing system is in the midst of transition. He questions why letter grades are being issued before that process is complete.
"Why would we give districts letter grades that mislead the public?" Ferguson asked. "We work very hard here to earn the trust of the students that we serve, their families and this community and to put (out) letter grades that inaccurately report that erodes at the confidence When you assign letter grades that the community associates with failing marks, you are eroding their confidence."
Giving an example of why he is "frustrated," Ferguson points to the "D" the school district earned in the category of K-3 Literacy; the superintendent says 100 percent of Tallmadge third-graders passed Ohio's Third Grade Reading Guarantee, meaning all were able to read at grade level before being promoted to fourth grade. Ferguson attributes the D grade to a tracking issue.
"The minute a citizen sees that 'D' in K-3 Literacy, they're going to ask the same question I would: 'Aren't we teaching youngsters to read? And then, when I say to them that 100 percent of our third-graders were promoted to fourth grade, that grade doesn't make any sense, but it's associated with us now."
Ferguson says he has high expectations for his students and staff, but says in the transition years for state testing, "it is just not right to assign letter grades to districts."
Editor's Note: See the Sept. 25 edition of the Tallmadge Express for more on the Local Report Cards.
Twitter: @ EllinWalsh_RPC