Who are school test scores for?

We picked up our kids’ OAA test scores at our school the day they came out. The news wasn’t so good. Our kids who had routinely scored in the top percentiles in previous years were now just scoring slightly above state averages, but still above those of their peers at their current school.

This made us consider moving our kids to a different school. In fact, as I understand the school scores, if the school is under performing, you have the option to ask for reassignment or even a voucher to apply to private schools.

In the wake of an attendance “scandal”- some districts have un-enrolled and re-enrolled students who were not showing up, the State Board of Education seemingly has zero interest in attending to parents needs to assess their school choice this year- while they work out who scammed the system in a few school districts:

In an unprecedented move, the State Board of Education on Monday voted unanimously to postpone the release of 2011-2012 Ohio school report cards until questions are answered about the accuracy of attendance data reported by local school districts.

The annual report card release had been slated for Aug. 29 but Acting Superintendent Michael Sawyers recommended it be delayed because of the state auditor’s ongoing investigation into alleged irregularities in reporting student attendance in some districts, including Columbus and Toledo.

The delay also means the new Performance Index rankings for each district, charter school and STEM school will not be released on Sept. 1.

Ohio Department of Education spokesman John Charlton said the state board will revisit the issue when it meets on Sept. 10-11, but it’s unclear when the data may be released

via Ohio delays release of school district report cards | www.daytondailynews.com.

Considering Dayton Public Schools opened last week and many schools are open this week, I question what good these numbers do for parents mid-September? Apparently, districts also receive funding based on test scores which is also throwing a monkey wrench into some district hiring:

Springfield City Schools Superintendent David Estrop said the delay nearly caused the district to have difficulty hiring 50 new employees because that federal funding is tied to the results of the district’s annual report card….

An agreement between ODE and the Springfield district allows it to fill those 50 positions. It will use the “20 percent set aside” – federal funds dedicated to interventions for struggling students – to pay the salaries of 41 tutors and nine academic coaches for the beginning of the school year. ibid

By the time the state releases this year’s scores, they will be absolutely useless to taxpayers to use as a metric for making enrollment decisions (never mind that better performing schools locally, like Stivers, DECA etc. already have waiting lists.

To penalize the whole state, due to a few districts monkeying with attendance figures is wrong. Penalize those districts with fines or firing local superintendents or even criminal prosecutions, but holding back data for school evaluation from the citizens who pay for this testing is wrong.

Full disclosures: my firm, The Next Wave, does some work for Dayton Public Schools. One of the things we produce is a school comparator- listing all the Dayton Public Schools, with their addresses, bell times, uniform requirements, extra-curricular activities, enrollment zones and- scores and attendance rates. This year’s literature is on hold thanks to the state.

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