Students are not test scores

Hall blasts state report card’s dismal picture

By Laurie Hamame -

C’s, D’s, and F’s fill out most of the Oberlin public school system’s state report card, released earlier this month by the Ohio Department of Education.

The high-water mark is a B for the district’s graduation rates, with 89.2 percent receiving a diploma in four years and 95.6 percent finishing in five.

The Oberlin schools brought home a C for K-3 literacy, raising the bar from last year’s D. The metric shows how many children are on track to being proficient in reading by the end of third grade. Seventy-six elementary kids started off track in Oberlin, and by the end of the year, 31 were moved on track.

The district earned 89.1 of 120 possible points on the state’s annual performance index, measuring how students did on standardized tests.

The department of education noted that 19.3 percent of test-takers were ranked advanced, 21.2 percent were ranked as accelerated, and another 22.5 percent were ranked as simply proficient. About 17 percent were deemed basic while 15.3 percent were considered limited.

About 3.9 percent were considered advanced plus, the highest possible ranking.

When it came to how many kids passed the exams, Oberlin is below the state requirements in every test and grade, with students passing just 8.3 percent of standardized tests.

Fourth- and sixth-graders didn’t meet the bare minimum mark in reading or social studies exams.

At Oberlin High School, kids struggled moderately with all tests. Lowest scores were given on math tests, with only 36.7 percent passing geometry and 37.7 percent passing algebra I.

Oberlin kids made strides in third grade math and fifth grade English, earning the district low B’s in those areas.

But when it came to the progress of students of color or those with economic disadvantages, the story was different — an F grade, dropping from last year’s D.

The Firelands Schools to the west and north of Oberlin also had mixed grades.

C’s and D’s in achievement and college preparation were balanced on the high end with an A for graduation rates and B’s in gap closing, K-3 literacy, and progress.

On the low end, there was an F for state test passage rates as Firelands met state expectations for one-third of exams.

Controversy continues to swirl around the state’s school report card system, and this fall’s releases resulted in some districts attempting to distance themselves from the grades.

“People see letter grades and they think about what they meant when they were in school,” said state teachers union president Robin Diedrick at an Oberlin school board retreat earlier this month. “They have no clue how things have changed. By giving them something familiar, it brings it to this level of simplicity in peoples’ minds and they really don’t understand what this data represents.”

District superintendent David Hall said most of the data points are based on one test students are going to take in their entire life.

“I want us to keep in mind that our students are not a test score,” David Hall wrote in a press release.

“Research indicates that student measurement systems that assess after the learning has occurred does not lead to high student achievement and or growth. With that being said, if you are a parent or community member, you should hesitate to place blame as you are left to interpret what (test scores) actually mean.”

Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.

Hall blasts state report card’s dismal picture

By Laurie Hamame