Compromise bill would change school district report cards

·3 min read

Jun. 25—The Ohio House is expected to vote today on a compromise bill that would once again modify the state's report card for K-12 schools, while also giving high school juniors the ability to opt out of the state-paid ACT or SAT exam.

The Ohio Senate approved Wednesday substitute House Bill 82. State Sen. Andrew Brenner said it is a compromise between competing report card reform efforts from this spring — one from Brenner, and one from state Reps. Don Jones and Phillip Robinson.

Jones said the new bill will be voted on today by the Ohio House, adding that "we will most likely agree" to the Senate's changes.

If HB 82 passes, it would go into effect for the 2021-22 school year's report card, which is released in fall 2022. The broad approach of the report card would not change — schools will receive grades on achievement, progress and other categories, largely based on students' performance on annual state tests.

But the bill would require changes to several specific details of the report card. Some of those changes are spelled out in the bill, while other details (cutoff scores and other criteria) would have to be determined by the state school board between now and March 31.

Brenner and state Sen. Theresa Fedor are the leading Republican and Democrat, respectively, on the Senate Education Committee, and they frequently disagree on education legislation. But both spoke Wednesday in support of the report card reform bill, which was approved by a 32-1 vote.

"This compromise is the result of negotiation between school administration groups, (charter) schools, business groups and other interested parties ...," Brenner said. "This will be ... a vast improvement over the current grade card system, which will be much more reflective of what's going on in our schools."

In supporting the reform bill, Fedor cited problems with years of repeated changes to the report card system, and called many of its existing metrics "arbitrary, flawed (and) inconsistent with any meaningful benchmarks."

What the bill means

The bill would change the report card system for most schools, but not for joint vocational school districts or dropout prevention and recovery schools.

Schools would be rated on five components — achievement, progress, gap closing, graduation and early literacy. The previous "prepared for success" component would be renamed "college, career, workforce and military readiness" but schools would not be rated on that data.

Rather than an A-F scale, schools would receive 1 to 5 stars in each component, according to the Legislative Service Commission. One star would equate to "needs significant support to meet state standards," three stars would mean "meets state standards," and five stars would mean "significantly exceeds state standards."

After a one-year phase-in, schools would receive an overall 1-5 star rating based on their five components, with achievement and progress receiving double the weighting of the other three components. To create more differentiation, schools' overall ratings could include half-stars.

Schools' year-over-year progress would be measured based on three consecutive years of state testing data, with the most recent year weighted at 50%, and the other years at 25%.

Early literacy would be a combination of the percentage of students proficient on the third-grade reading test (40% weight), the percentage of students promoted to fourth grade based on third-grade reading guarantee rules (35%), and whether a school is making year-over-year progress in improving early-grade literacy (25%).

Opportunities offered

The report card would also institute an "opportunity profile" for each school, showing 22 different metrics. It would include: — Staff-to-student ratios for teachers, counselors, nurses, librarians, mental health professionals and other positions. — The percentage of inexperienced teachers and principals in each school or district. — The percentage of students able to take computers or other devices home. — The percentage of students participating in co-curricular activities. — The percentage of students participating in a variety of courses, from arts and gym, to languages or career-tech, to advanced courses or college credit plus.

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