From the SuperIntendent



I talked with many of you during a live webinar last Wednesday about Ohio’s New Accountability System for districts and schools, especially the simulated Local Report Cards that apply an A-F grade to nine measures of performance for the 2011-2012 school year.  

I hope that by now you have studied your simulated report cards and are getting a sense of how the new letter-grade system differs from our state’s current rating system. If you missed the webinar, a recording is available on our New Local Report Cards web page. You will also find an additional explanation of the new report card system there.

Keep in mind that we will be implementing the letter grades incrementally. You will see nine measures graded on the August 2013 report card, working up to 18 measures on the 2016 report card. I hope that as we move by degrees toward a composite, overall letter grade for each school and district, you will become convinced of the usefulness of the new grading system.

I believe its greatest advantage will be to give schools, parents and communities a clearer picture of how well we are educating our boys and girls. This will help all of us know more precisely what must happen before we are giving our children a truly top-quality education.  Armed with this knowledge, we can work together more effectively. I urge you to gather your district and school leaders as well as interested parents and community leaders to analyze your simulated Local Report Card data and begin forming an improvement plan.
In another development last week, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers released more information on the assessments that will accompany the new Common Core math and English language arts standards. PARCC unveiled performance-level “descriptors” for the tests in each grade that tell teachers and parents the knowledge and skills a student should be demonstrating at each performance level. The consortium also has outlined the educational implications for a child at each performance level. Visit PARCC’s website, where you can find frequently asked questions and offer feedback on the descriptors. They will be posted until May 8, 2013.

Speaking of the Common Core, Cincinnati.com today published an article that I think captures the essence of the new standards for Ohio’s schools. Teacher Eileen Gorman talks about the “productive struggle” her students are undergoing as they learn 8th-grade algebra using the more rigorous critical thinking and problem-solving approaches required by the new standards. Ms. Gorman’s comments should remind us all that there will be challenges both for our students and ourselves as we begin to cut our teeth on these tougher standards. But the challenges will make our kids intellectually stronger and better equipped for a world where critical thinking and problem-solving are what move us forward.

I know your own critical thinking and problem-solving efforts in the coming months will help ensure that our students get the most out of these new standards. Thank you in advance for your good work on behalf of our boys and girls.


Dr. Richard A. Ross