Sep 16, 2022 - News

Ohio students getting back on track

Share of students with passing scores on Ohio’s spring assessment, 2019 to 2022
Data: Ohio Department of Education; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Ohio's spring test scores improved among all student demographics from 2021 to 2022 — but they've yet to rebound to pre-pandemic levels.

Why it matters: The figures released yesterday in the annual state report card illustrate the extent to which the pandemic devastated learning outcomes, particularly among the state's most vulnerable students.

  • But it also suggests that things are heading in the right direction as schools adjust to their "new normal."

The big picture: Students nationwide are struggling to bounce back, with elementary math and reading scores dropping to historic lows, Axios' Erin Doherty reports.

State of play: At the district and building level, Ohio's report cards dropped the prior A-F ranking process and are now using a rating system of 1-5 stars enacted by the state legislature.

  • Districts are scored in five categories: ​​achievement (test scores), progress (improvement year-over-year), gap closing (ensuring all student subgroups succeed), graduation and early literacy.
  • This year's cards don't include overall ratings. Those will be phased in next year with new weighted calculations, along with a category called "college, career, workforce and military readiness" in 2024-25.

Between the lines: While proponents say report cards hold districts accountable and help guide instruction, critics have noted they've historically just been a reflection of outside factors like student poverty.

  • The Franklin County districts with the lowest scores are also the most diverse and economically disadvantaged, and the inverse is true for those at the top, per the data.

What they're saying: Columbus' low-scoring card "does not show a whole picture of what students, families, teachers, and administrators have accomplished since the return to in-person learning last year," superintendent Talisa Dixon said in a statement.

What's next: Starting next school year, report cards can once again be used punitively against consistently low-scoring districts, which are subject to state takeover.

Go deeper: View your local district's ratings or check out the state database.

Data: Ohio Department of Education; Chart: Alissa Widman Neese/Axios
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