Recognizing Momentum... One of the Great Things Happening in Ohio’s Schools
By: Chris Woolard
Merriam-Webster defines momentum as “strength or force gained by motion.”
In sports, the concept of momentum often is used to describe teams or athletes that create an energy that turns the game in their favor through a series of outstanding efforts and events. As a sports fan, I can recognize that concept in action. There is a feeling of extreme positivity, gains are being made, and everyone — the team, the coaches, the fans — recognizes things are going in the right direction. It feels contagious — and the idea is that you can build on it.
That energy can apply to schools too.
Our state superintendent of public instruction, Paolo DeMaria, spends a lot of time visiting with Ohio’s students and teachers to see firsthand the great things happening in Ohio’s classrooms. If you follow his Twitter and the Department’s Instagram posts, you can see amazing examples of these schools. These visits also are featured in blog posts. Recently, as part of the ongoing discussion about Ohio’s Strategic Plan for Education, Each Child, Our Future, Paolo has been visiting schools that have received state recognition.
Ohio highlights schools and districts with awards that recognize high academic performance, growth, and improvements with groups of students. In my role with the state report card and understanding the performance of Ohio’s schools, one of my favorite recognitions is the Momentum Award. The State Board of Education presents this award to districts and schools for exceeding expectations in student growth on state assessments. To earn the award, a district or school must earn straight A’s on all Value-Added measures on the Ohio School Report Cards. Report cards serve many purposes. One of those that often gets overlooked is the recognition of success. Report cards have a lot of information. They contain information about student progress on state tests, which are tools for students to demonstrate what they can do regarding state learning standards. Measuring growth is complex, but the importance of it cannot be overstated. All students in Ohio can show growth. All schools and districts, regardless of their starting points, can show growth for their students. The Momentum Award identifies those schools and districts that exceeded growth expectations on the most recent report cards.
A total of 70 districts and 226 schools recently were announced as Momentum Award winners. They come from all over the state, including Georgetown Jr/Sr High School in Brown County, Mason City Schools, and Paul L. Dunbar Elementary in Cleveland. They will be recognized with certificates, and many local newspapers have been highlighting these successes. But most importantly, students in these schools are showing outstanding growth. There are great things going on in Ohio’s schools, and growth on state assessments is only one part of the picture. Schools are preparing students for what comes after graduation. Schools are meeting students’ social-emotional needs. Students are participating in remarkable art programs and marching in dazzling bands. There are lots of great things that represent success, and we should be sure to acknowledge that. We also can learn from these examples using Ohio’s Evidence-Based Clearinghouse. The Momentum Award is one way to acknowledge that success. Congrats to all of this year’s honorees. Keep doing great things for Ohio’s students.
Chris Woolard is senior executive director for Performance and Impact for the Ohio Department of Education. You can learn more about Chris by clicking here.