state report cards

BG school district sees growth in state report card

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   This Bowling Green report card may make the refrigerator door. The state released its school report cards this morning – a moment that many districts await with great anxiety. Bowling Green City School District shows improvement in student achievement and gap closing for students. It also shows continued “A”s for progress and graduation rates. And overall, the district received a final grade of “B.” The state did not award overall grades last year. But if it had assigned grades, Bowling Green would definitely have scored lower last year, according to Ann McCarty, executive director of teaching and learning for BG Schools. Most importantly, Superintendent Francis Scruci said this morning, is the fact that the district continues to score high for student progress, and has shown improvement in closing the gaps for students. “We are showing progress and we are showing growth,” Scruci said. “We’re showing improvement and that’s the most important thing.” “Our goal is to make sure a kid grows at least one grade level every school year,” he said. “We’re doing straight ‘A’ work in that area.” The state report card 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. That looks at how well the district meets expectations for vulnerable students in English language arts, math and graduation. “When you’re looking at measures that mean something, certainly those are areas that mean something,” Scruci said. 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. The district also scored two “D”s on the state report card. Scruci repeated his belief that the state report cards use a flawed system for scoring schools. “It’s a convoluted formula. It’s a formula with a flaw,” he said. At a special board meeting earlier this week, school board members questioned how the district could receive a grade of “D” in the “prepared for success” category – yet an “A” for graduation rates. That is just one example, McCarty said, of the flawed 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. 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. Scruci agreed that the district’s efforts sometime work against it when it comes to state report cards. “We’re our own worst enemy,” he said. “Those will be areas that we will continue to try to figure out.” The state report…


Preliminary state report card shows reason to celebrate for BG

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…


BG board studies preliminary state report card

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Ann McCarty stressed, then restressed, that the state report grades she would be showing Tuesday evening for Bowling Green City Schools were preliminary. The final grades, she said, wouldn’t be out until the end of September or early October. The preliminary grades showed mixed results – one being so good that McCarty is bracing for it to change in the final report. The district had languished in the “gap closing” category which measures the area between students with disabilities and all students. Last year, when the grade went from an F to a D, that was considered a “huge accomplishment.” This year – at least so far – the “gap closing” grade is B. “If this remains where it is, this is huge for us,” McCarty said to the board of education. McCarty also cautioned that since the district had received an A for progress the last two years, it was unlikely to hit that high grade again this year. “It won’t be an A,” she warned. In the “prepared for success” category, the district slipped from a C to a D. However, she mentioned that the school scored well on ACTs, Advanced Placement courses and graduation rates. Unlike many other high schools where students have five years to graduate, Bowling Green has a “fantastic” graduation rate after four years. The district’s overall grade is C – at least for now. “That could go up. That could go down,” McCarty said. McCarty went on to address some specific gains seen in the standardized tests for the students. Bowling Green saw “great gains” in high school algebra, along with reading improvement in several areas. Progress was also seen in biology and American government scores. McCarty credited teachers’ willingness to share lessons for the success. “That is a collaborative effort of all the teachers,” she said. McCarty then went on to report to the school board about efforts to provide equity to the district’s students. “We cannot treat all kids the same,” she said. “We meet them where they are, and we bring them to where they need to be.” An equity committee is in the third year of working to get all students engaged. To gauge feelings about school, a survey was given to staff, students and parents. While most students feel they are treated fairly and that students at school are friendly, the results showed that many students feel threatened or bullied at school. “There are a lot of districts who wouldn’t ask this because they don’t want the answer,” McCarty said. The survey also showed that the majority of students, parents and staff feel the schools are safe places. McCarty talked about the faculty’s efforts to create safe learning environments, where students and staff focus on relationships and students are encouraged to participate in the learning process. “When we’re done with this, it will be a new game for us at Bowling Green City Schools,” she said. “The days of laying passive in the classroom are gone.” Instead of “teaching to the tests,” McCarty said this type of teaching encourages students to think critically.


BG Middle School earns state ‘Momentum Award’

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City School District has taken some heat for low scores on the state’s testing. But the State Board of Education has notified the Bowling Green Middle School that it will be receiving an award for student growth in reading and math. Now in its third year, the “Momentum Award” is the state board’s effort to recognize districts that have received “A”s on each Value-Added measure included on Ohio’s school report cards. That means the middle school’s report card for the 2016-2017 school year showed students made greater than expected growth in reading and math. That’s a big deal, according to Principal Eric Radabaugh. “It really is meaningful for our school,” Radabaugh said Wednesday afternoon. The “A” grade means that Bowling Green Middle School students made more progress over the year than most other students in Ohio. “To me the most important measure of a school is the growth from one year to the next,” the principal said. “We are honored to receive the award.” Radabaugh praised teachers for making the difference. “I credit our dedicated staff,” he said. The teachers use a team approach. “We have a learning environment where teachers share ideas of what’s working and what’s not working.” Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci was pleased with the state recognition for efforts at the middle school. “This is another example of the great things happening in our district,” Scruci said. “We as a district are pleased and proud of the work being done at the middle school and for the hard work being recognized.” The “value-added” grades measure growth in all the sub-groups of students, including those with disabilities. That in itself is notable, Radabaugh said. The State Board of Education agreed. “Your accomplishment makes you part of an elite group of districts that are ensuring the academic growth of students from every background and ability level,” state board president Tess Elshoff wrote to the school. “This is especially admirable when your district is operating multiple schools with diverse student populations and varying needs and challenges.” The letter from Elshoff asked that the praise be extended to school administration, staffs and parents. “Members of the State Board of Education congratulate you on recruiting dedicated school leaders and school staffs and equipping them with the tools they need to ensure academic growth for every child,” she wrote. “Please convey our thanks to your teachers, support staff and parents for believing that every child can achieve. Your district is a wonderful example for all Ohio school districts.” The state board is also planning to hold Bowling Green Middle School up as an example for other districts. “Members of the State Board and Ohio Department of Education look forward to sharing information about your success with districts and communities throughout our state, hoping they can follow your model of excellence,” Elshoff wrote. “Thank you for the work you do to help Ohio’s students succeed every day.”


Scruci joins other districts questioning state report cards

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The state may need a refresher course on how to do testing. Once again, Bowling Green City School District scored low in some areas on its state report card. But according to Superintendent Francis Scruci, that may say more about the tests than the school district. In the area of “achievement” – which represents the number of students who passed the state tests and how well they performed on them – Bowling Green scored a D. The sting from that grade is lessened a bit by the similar grades earned across the state, Scruci said. Of the 607 districts scored, only 22 got an A, 15 scored a B, 22 got a C, and 58 earned a D. The vast majority – 490 – earned an F. “As educators we know when we create tests for classrooms, there should be a bell-shaped curve,” Scruci said. The fact that most districts failed, raises “obvious questions.” “This is a pretty good illustration that this system is not working,” he said about the state grade cards. Scruci is not alone in his harsh opinion of the state tests. Many Wood County superintendents share his criticisms. “Everyone is frustrated with the system itself,” he said. “The system is flawed. If a teacher were to give a test and get scores like that,” they would do it again. In addition to the “achievement” area, the other grades given to Bowling Green schools include: D for gap closing. This shows how well schools are meeting the performance expectations for the most vulnerable populations of students in English language arts, math and graduation. C for K-3 literacy. This looks at how successful the district is at getting struggling readers on track to proficiency in third grade and beyond. A for progress. This looks closely at the value-added growth that all students are making based on their past performances. Bowling Green scored A in all the areas of overall, gifted, students with disabilities and lowest 20 percent in achievement. A for graduation rate. This looks at the percent of students who are successfully finishing high school with a diploma in four for five years. C for prepared for success. Whether training in a technical field or preparing for work or college, this component looks at how well prepared the students are for future opportunities. Scruci was particularly pleased with the value-added progress for the district. “From a superintendent’s standpoint, that’s what we want to focus on. We’re seeing a lot of growth,” he said. “We’re never going to be content, but we’re certainly seeing growth.” “We’re happy that pretty much across the board we’ve improved in every area,” Scruci said. He noted the added efforts by teachers to make improvements, including many of them doing additional training in the summer. “Our teachers are trying to make a difference,” Scruci said. In a letter sent out to staff Friday morning, Scruci noted the “F” given to the district in the “indicators met” category. “Please do not allow that to define you,” he told the teachers. “As you can see there is a flawed system that has been created,” Scruci wrote in his letter to the staff. “Far from the bell-shaped curve that we as teachers were always taught to be an…


BG Schools bringing home better state report card

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   This report card may make the front of the refrigerator Dr. Ann McCarty, executive director of teaching and learning for Bowling Green City Schools, reported to the board of education Tuesday evening that the state had released preliminary reports cards for school districts. Though far from complete, the grades showed a far more favorable report for Bowling Green schools. Some of the grades may still appear dismal to those outside education – nothing to brag about. But to educators, who know what the numbers mean, they showed great improvement, McCarty said. For example, in the area of “gap closing” between special education and other students, the district improved from an “F” to a “D.” “That’s huge in terms of statistics,” McCarty said. “Our teachers worked really hard on this.” Other success stories were found in K-3 literacy, which went from an “F” to a “C.” “This is a huge upgrade for us,” she said. The elementary schools saw significant gains. “Our teachers were doing things differently,” McCarty said. In the area of social studies, fourth graders met the state benchmark. And in English, “almost every single grade saw growth. We’re seeing growth out of our students.” In the area of math, sixth and seventh grade math showed solid gains, and high school algebra scores rose 15 percent. “That’s a huge gain,” McCarty said. All the second language students in third grade passed, which is quite an achievement, she added. The only drop seen was in science, and McCarty said that was most likely due to new technology. McCarty credited the teachers for trying different techniques to try to raise the report card scores. For example, third graders at Kenwood Elementary had a 37 percent pass rate when tested in November. When tested again in the spring, those same students showed a 67 percent pass rate. The teachers used collaboration and curriculum programs to make improvements. In some cases, they kept going back to the drawing board till they came up with strategies that worked. And the work doesn’t stop when schools close for the summer. McCarty showed the numbers of staff who participated in training over the summer. “This speaks to the dedication of our staff,” she said, pointing to the lists of summer trainings and the improved grade cards. “This right here is why we’re seeing things like that.” The district expects report cards to improve more as the first class of all-day kindergarten students reach testing age. The kindergarten and first grade teachers saw great advancements in the students once the all-day classes began two years ago. Board president Ellen Scholl complimented McCarty and other staff for the improvements in the preliminary grade cards. “Good job,” she said. In other business at Tuesday’s meeting, the school board hired James Beaverson as the new high school baseball coach. And Eric Rine was recognized for winning state boys track and field championships for seated shot put, seated 800, seated 400, and seated 100.