Putting report cards in perspective

By Jason Hawk - jhawk@aimmediamidwest.com

Where does Amherst rank among school districts across Ohio?

According to a breakdown of standards met and performance index scores on the Ohio state report cards released earlier this month, the local district places 128th of 608 statewide to crack the top 25 percent.

The top five performers are Solon in Cuyahoga County, Ottawa Hills in Lucas County, Indian Hill in Hamilton County, Marion in Mercer County, and Madeira in Hamilton County.

Avon Lake is the top-ranked school district in Lorain County at number 31 on the list, followed by Avon at number 34.

Amherst is the next Lorain County school to appear on the list.

The Firelands school system, which includes parts of the city of Amherst and Amherst Township, is 169th.

State report cards are “just one way we evaluate our performance as a school district,” Amherst superintendent Steven Sayers said after the Sept. 13 release by the Ohio Department of Education.

There are many factors that aren’t graded by the report cards but make great schools, he said.

As we previously reported, Amherst earned an overall grade of B.

The district was given a C for achievement by students on Ohio’s standardized tests; an A for the growth students showed year over year; an A for helping students in “vulnerable populations” keep pace; and an A for the local graduation rate.

But somehow those grades culminated in a D for how well students are prepared for life after graduation.

Still, Amherst’s schools showed improvement over the prior year, assistant superintendent Michael Molnar told the Amherst board of education on Sept. 17.

For example, he said gifted students, at-risk students, and those with disabilities are all showing more than a single year’s growth from one year to the next, adding A’s to the district’s report card.

Critics continue to say the report cards are fundamentally flawed, many arguing that poverty rates — not teachers, facilities, curriculum, or any other factor — are the single greatest element in determining how well districts perform.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

By Jason Hawk