Letter to the Community from Superintendent Bruce Hoover
On September 15, the Ohio Department of Education released the 2015-2016 State Report Card. While data from state assessments helps to inform our work and to improve the quality and effectiveness of our classroom instruction, the state report card has become very complex, making it very challenging to understand how student achievement is improving in our school district and across the state.
During the past 16 years in which I have been an Ohio school district administrator, I have seen Ohio’s learning standards changed three times, the State tests have changed more than six times, and the accountability measures have changed in number and calculation in each of the past five years. These changes create a constantly moving target, and make it nearly impossible to determine our progress over a period of time.
An example of how the state report card has contributed to the confusion around student performance is illustrated by the fact that in five of our six elementary schools, 93 percent or more of our third-graders met the state’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee. Yet the District received an “F” on our K-3 Literacy score on this year’s state report card.
Further complicating the issue of communicating student achievement via the state report card is the fact that results tend to reveal more about the relationship between a community’s wealth and student achievement than overall student achievement.
Groveport Madison Schools has changed considerably over the past 20 years. Median household incomes in the District have stagnated or declined, and now, more than 72 percent of our students qualify for a free or reduced-price lunch. There has also been a significant increase in student mobility, with more than one-fifth of our students remaining in the District for less than six months. Minority populations have increased from 7 percent to 52 percent, and the number of non-English-speaking families increases every year. In fact, more than 25 different languages are represented in the District today.
No area of our school district is immune from all of these issues, and we must work together to ensure that all students are getting the assistance they need to be successful learners. New academic approaches must be employed to ensure students learn the desired content, and that they are able to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in a variety of ways.
To this end, we have increased the intervention and support we provide to students and families. We have added new curricula and we are providing ongoing training to our staff to enable them to reach beyond the traditional instructional approaches to connect with all of our students. We have added rigor to our instruction and have accelerated learning for our students who are ready to take on the challenges of college-level work while still in high school. We have increased our focus on career and job readiness, ensuring our students are prepared for well-paying jobs – jobs that will raise household incomes and reduce the impact that poverty has on our community. Finally, we have created more partnerships with county agencies to help address the greater needs of our community and have we begun to build parent partnerships across our community.
Even when taking into consideration our many challenges, we are seeing improvement in student achievement. One of the most important (and controllable) aspects of the state report card is what is referred to as “Value Added.” This rating represents the amount of learning that a student accomplishes during a single school year. I am very pleased to report that Groveport Madison Schools earned an “A” on our Value Added score on the 2015-2016 State Report Card. We also received an “A” rating for the academic growth of our gifted education students and for students who have struggled the most. In addition, we received a “B” rating for the Value Added improvement of our students with disabilities. At the high school level, nearly 92 percent of our students tested proficient or higher on the Ohio Graduation Test (OGT) by their junior year. And the high school’s graduation rate increased to nearly 90 percent, resulting in our state report card rating increasing from a “D” to a “C” rating.
Click here for the complete 2015-2016 District Report Card.
While we are very pleased with our improvements, we still have much work to do, as we have more students and more challenges than ever before. We welcome the opportunity to work with our students on a daily basis and to provide new ways to encourage their academic, social, and personal growth. We are committed to our vision of Every Student, Every Lesson, Every Day; and we will continue to professionally grow ourselves to meet the new standards and measures as they come. We also appreciate the trust and support of the Cruiser community as we work to build a brighter future for our students!