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Ohio's Schools Will No Longer Get Letter Grades On Their Report Cards

 A student walks down a hallway at Worthington Kilbourne High School in March 2021, the first week all students were back to in-person learning in 2021.
Daniel Konik
/
Statehouse News Bureau
A student walks down a hallway at Worthington Kilbourne High School in March 2021, the first week all students were back to in-person learning in 2021.

Ohio’s state report cards on schools will never again rank districts and buildings on an A-F letter grade scale. A law passed earlier this year replaces letter grades with one to five stars.

This is the second major overhaul for the report cards in a decade. The letter grades, first put in place in 2012, were scrapped after some lawmakers didn’t like the labeling of some low-performing districts as failing. There were also complaints that the system was both too simplistic and too complicated.

State report cards haven't received letter grades the past two years because of the pandemic, but Dr. Chris Woolard, senior executive director of the center of performance and impact at the Ohio Department of Education, said even without letter grades, the report cards tell a story of what’s happened in the last year.

“It's really designed to have a better understanding of, one, the impact of the pandemic, to sort of understand where students and schools are, and to sort of set a bit of a baseline moving forward about how do we move forward this year," Woolard said.

This year’s abbreviated report cards show graduation rate, student performance on certain indicators, and demographic and enrollment data for buildings and districts.

The report cards back up what a report from the Ohio Department of Education showed last month - that across the board, students lost ground during the pandemic. State test results showed scores that were eight points lower inlanguage arts tests and 15 points lower in math.

“Statewide student performance decreased. It didn't impact everybody the same, though. And that's sort of an important point, too, that it was our sort of historically underserved students, our economically disadvantaged students who were more impacted and had larger decreases," Woolard said.

An analysis by the state's largest teachers' union, the Ohio Education Association, showed there was about a 10% drop in districts' Performance Index scores. It also said charter schools in the state saw a 25% drop – a 2.5 times greater degree of loss.

Changing letter grades to stars doesn't affect how buildings are categorized for the state's EdChoice voucher program. As of a law passed in November 2020, whether students in a building qualify for EdChoice is based on that building's performance index score, which is one element of the report cards.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.