Saturday, January 27, 2001

Ohio test scores just one factor in quality

Parents advised to look at big picture

By Cindy Kranz and Andrea Tortora
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Parents shouldn't panic over their school district's latest ninth-grade proficiency test scores.

        The scores released last week showed mixed success for Cincinnati Public Schools and suburban school districts in the five subjects tested: writing, reading, math, citizenship and science.

        “I think it's only one tool or one measure in a sundry of things that ought to be measured as to whether a district is effective,” said Cliff Migal, a member of the Governor's Commission on Student Success.

        The commission last month made recommendations to Gov. Bob Taft on changing proficiency testing of Ohio students.

        “I think it's extremely difficult to measure the effectiveness of anything on one test,” added Mr. Migal, president of Great Oaks Institute of Technology and Career Development, based in Sharonville. “People react differently under the pressure of having to take a test.”

        He suggested parents look at the whole school system: grades, student attendance, staff attendance, diversity and depth in curriculum. Some of that information is available from Ohio's annual report card on each district and its schools.

        Other things to evaluate, Mr. Migal suggested: “What happens to students when they leave? Are they going on to higher education? Are they completing higher education? Are they going to work? Are they successful in the work force?”

        Michael White, director of testing for Princeton City Schools, reminded parents that students who took this test in October are mostly repeaters who failed one or more sections previously.

        “The cream of the crop has already passed the test,” Mr. hite said.

        Statewide, more high school students passed the entire test than the year before — a sign that Ohio schools continue to improve, state educators said.

        “It still is an indication of progress being made in the school districts,” said Patti Grey, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Education. “Certainly with the addition of science this year, the good news is we didn't see anything drop overall in the ninth grade.”

        While students in grades 9-12 must pass the ninth-grade proficiency test to graduate, the test is being phased out. This year's eighth-graders will take the new Ohio Graduation Test in 2003, when they are sophomores.

- Ohio test scores just one factor in quality
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