CLEVELAND (WJW)- Ohio’s school report cards are in, and they illustrate the negative impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on student performance.
All but a handful of Ohio school districts have lower performance index marks in the 2020-2021 school report cards released Thursday by the Ohio Department of Education, compared with the last index released, for the 2018-2019 school year.
“What we’ve seen is like nothing we’ve seen in our lifetime, and in the education system it’s like nothing we’ve seen and not surprised at some of the data we’re seeing,” said Dr. Chris Woolard, chief program officer with the Ohio Department of Education.
The report cards, like last year’s, do not contain overall grades or rankings for any districts in keeping with state legislation passed this year acknowledging obstacles the pandemic has created in education.
As students faced quarantines and remote learning, Woolard said declines were largest in districts with more remote learners and vulnerable student groups, including economically disadvantaged students and minority students.
“It’s not impacting everybody the same,” Woolard said.
The Painesville City Schools, Cleveland Municipal Schools, East Cleveland Schools and Akron City Schools were among the lowest-performing districts in Northeast Ohio.
“It shows that we had a real hard time getting our kids tested,” Painesville City Schools Superintendent Dr. Josh Englehart said.
He said half of the district’s students were remote last year and did not take state proficiency tests, automatically dropping the district’s performance index score by at least 44%, to the lowest score in the state.
“It’s really a mirage,” Englehart said. “If you look at that performance index score and think that’s an indication of anything other than untested kids, it’s simply not a reflection of anything else.”
Facing challenges like student hunger and internet access, urban districts like the Cleveland Metropolitan Schools have been working to make up lost ground.
“We weren’t waiting for the report card to find out that we have to help kids catch up on lost learning,” CEO Dr. Eric Gordon said, pointing to the district’s large summer learning program and ongoing efforts.
Gordon also pointed to bright spots in the report card, including K-3 literacy improvement and the district’s highest graduation rate ever, at 80.9%. The state average is 84%.
He acknowledged there is still work to do.
“The COVID remote and hybrid shutdown last year had a massive impact on the learning time available for kids in Cleveland and, frankly, across the state,” Gordon said.
Akron Superintendent Christine Fowler Mack said, comparing the report card with data from periods when tests were taken in more stable and structured school environments, the district showed positive trends in several areas.
“Despite the shutdown, our 4-year and 5-year graduation rates continued to improve and our Prepared for Success college and career readiness measure remained relatively consistent,” said Fowler Mack.
Fowler Mack also said chronic absenteeism was on track to meet their goal of 16.6% before the pandemic stalled the district’s improvement.
Solon, Chagrin Falls, Rocky River and Beachwood were the top local districts, though all had lower scores than in the last state report card.
Just eight of the state’s 607 school districts improved performance index scores. The only district in Northeast Ohio to improve was the Put-in-Bay Local Schools.
“The results of the report cards are not unexpected given the disruptions in learning and challenging circumstances during the last school year. As always, data from the Ohio School Report Cards can only tell part of the story of any given school or district,” the Ohio Department of Education said in a news release.
10 Top Performing Northeast Ohio Districts:
Chagrin Falls: 105.545
Rocky River: 103.913
West Geauga: 103.057
Bay Village: 102.364
Brecksville-Broadview Heights: 101.585
Revere Local Schools: 101.024
10 Worst-performing Northeast Ohio Districts:
Painesville City: 32.506 (66.747 in 2018-2019)
Cleveland Metropolitan: 38.278 (61.564)
East Cleveland: 38.303 (55.279)
Akron City: 39.209 (67.229)
Garfield Heights CITY 41.142 (63.351)
Lorain: 41.611 (64.461)
Bedford City: 42.054 (70.861)
Maple Heights City: 45.81 (64.806)
Euclid City: 46.125 (63.865)
Canton City: 49.527 (64.429)