Portsmouth School struggles with changing standards
by By Ryan Ottney
Ryan Scott Ottney
PDT Staff Writer
Portsmouth City Schools Superintendent Scott Dutey said his district had two years to get ready for the new state report card format, but still had difficulty keeping up with the state’s constantly changing system.
One month before the cards were released last week, the state was reporting 12 of 24 indicators met by the school last school year, but with just weeks left until the cards were released, the state changed it all twice. The district was reduced to only 10 of 24, and their grade dropped to an F. The district also earned a C for performance index (72.9 percent), and an C for Value-Added.
Dutey said it’s frustrating because the district has improved, but the changes in the new state report card made it difficult for schools all over Ohio to keep up.
“I’ve been having these conversations with our district personnel, and our board members, and our community folks at our ed forums we have quarterly. We’ve known for two years this was coming. Changes were coming. The new report card was coming. None of that should have caught us off guard,” Dutey said. “Even though we knew these changes were coming, they’ve changed the way AYP (Annual Yearly Progress) calculations are done. They created a whole new formula again. They’ve changed the graduation requirements, creating the four- and five-year cohorts. That wasn’t supposed to take place last year. That was supposed to be phased in. They went ahead and included it now. Those kind of things are frustrating.”
When the state reissued the district’s number of indicators in August, they pulled three students from their 3rd grade math count and six from their 7th grade reading. The school’s grade dropped to an F.
“When I talked to the ODE (Ohio Department of Education) they told me all this is computerized and they don’t have any control what students count and what students don’t count. But they can control what students are selected and picked to be part of that cap, and that’s what I tried to relate to them,” Dutey said.
Overall he said the district was graded a C in many categories — value-added, graduation, performance index — and he believes they can do better.
“When you think about a C, it’s just kind of lukewarm. It’s average. And we don’t want that. We want to get the A’s and B’s. We worked hard the previous two years, got our district ranking up to ‘Effective,’ and we’re very pleased about that. We’re looking to grow and continue to build off that. To take a step back was disappointing,” Dutey said.
Cuts in state funding have also played a part in the district’s performance, he said. Full-time positions had to be absorbed and substitutes were picking up more responsibilities. Even though the district is getting an increase of funding this year, Dutey said it’s still less than they were getting just two years ago.
Now that they have a better idea what the new cards look like, he said they’ll be able to address the areas that need the most improvement. The school has already hired nine new teachers and two guidance counselors. They’re offering more student programs like dual-credit for college and ACT preparedness, and participating in the Southern Ohio Educational Service Center’s Artist in Residency program.
“Things will continue to change. That’s been the history of this state. Anytime they implement or initiate something new, the minute districts start, ‘OK, we’re going to make advances and we’re going to progress toward the goals you’re setting for us,’ whenever we get to that point, the game changes again. They’ll create new tests. They’ll create new standards. It will always be evolving,” Dutey said.
The complete reports, for every school district in the state of Ohio, are available online at reportcard.education.ohio.gov.
Ryan Scott Ottney may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Ryan on Twitter @PDTwriter.
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