By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Bowling Green School Board got a sneak peek at the preliminary state report card for the district Tuesday morning.
If that preliminary report holds, the district will have something to brag about – receiving an overall grade of B.
The state did not award overall grades last year, said Ann McCarty, executive director of teaching and learning for BG Schools. But if it had assigned grades, Bowling Green would have likely been in the “D” or “F” range, maybe “C,” she said.
“This is a great reflection on the work the curriculum staff is doing” and the teachers who implement the curriculum in the classrooms, Superintendent Francis Scruci said.
Scruci added that he still believes the state report card system is far from rational.
“I think it’s a flawed system,” he said.
But even with all its flaws, Bowling Green City Schools is excelling – scoring repeated “A”s in the categories of progress and graduation rates.
“When you’re looking at measures that mean something, certainly those are areas that mean something,” Scruci said.
McCarty explained that the state report cards are a “snapshot of the overall grades.”
She gave a preview of the preliminary grades at last month’s board meeting. At that point, she cautioned the board that the early results might be too good to be true. But this latest sneak peek looks even better – though McCarty stressed the grades aren’t certain until the official reports come out later this week.
The preliminary snapshot viewed on Tuesday gave BG City Schools an “A” for the growth of students from one year to the next. The district received a “B” for gap closing, “which is fantastic,” McCarty said. That looks at how well the district meets expectations for vulnerable students in English, language arts, math and graduation.
Though there is plenty for the district to be proud of in the preliminary report, Scruci said he realizes there is still room for improvement. While B is a good overall grade, the district needs to keep aiming for an A.
“Until we have that, we’ve got work to do,” he said.
Board members had questions about the grades, including how the district could receive a grade of “D” in the “prepared for success” category – yet an “A” for graduation rate.
That is just one example, McCarty said, of incongruous results in state testing. Bowling Green’s grade is hurt by the state’s metric measuring four- and five-year graduation rates. Since Bowling Green High School graduates students in four years, it is penalized.
“We’re getting punished because we don’t have a five-year graduation rate,” McCarty said.
The scoring is “unusually cruel,” McCarty said, noting that she had called that state about the issue at least seven times.
McCarty also addressed the preliminary “D” for improving at-risk kindergarten through third grade readers. In the last three years, the district has gone from an “F” to a “C” and this year to a “D.” That lower grade is because the district has worked to identify more students who could benefit from reading help.
“It’s punishing us because we spread the net wider, so we didn’t miss any students,” McCarty said.
The board also asked about new graduation tests being required by the state. High School Assistant Principal Dan Black said 40 students had been identified for intervention, and all their parents had been contacted.
Scruci said those parents were encouraged to contact State Sen. Randy Gardner and State Rep. Theresa Gavarone, R-Bowling Green, to express concerns about the new graduation requirements.
“I will say Randy and Theresa have been good advocates for education,” Scruci said.
The new requirements are affecting students in every district in Ohio, he said.
“This is going to impact a lot of kids across the state,” Scruci said. “Everybody’s in the same boat.”
Scruci predicted there would be no changes until after the gubernatorial election. “Unfortunately, education is tied to politics,” he said.
And there will be no changes until someone with influence is impacted, he said.
“This will start to change when it affects the wrong people,” he said.