Thursday, September 20, 2001

Schools measured on closing gap

Raising success of minorities part of rating

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati Public Schools,for the first time, will include how well the achievement gap of students in different racial groups is reduced as a factor of each school's improvement rating.

        “Adding that as an indicator will strengthen our schools and really practice our belief that all students can learn,” said board of education member Florence Newell. “That makes a statement that it really matters to us.”

        This new measurement is part of a districtwide accountability plan begun in 1998 in which all the schools are rated — and subsequently rewarded or possibly redesigned — based on certain goals, such as students' attendance rate and proficiency test scores.

        The schools are placed in four categories — achievement, improvement, intervention and redesign — based on their improvement in the indicators.

        CPS administration and the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers union that represents more than 3,000 teachers worked together on a committee last school year and during the summer to refine the accountability plan, which both groups say helps schools to improve by holding them accountable.

        The achievement gap between blacks and whites is an issue of national concern. Throughout elementary and secondary school, blacks scored lower overall than whites on reading and math tests, according to early 1990s test results of both groups analyzed for a July 2001 U.S. Department of Education report.

        Adding the new measurement to the accountability plan that monitors how well schools reduce the achievement gap between races will place more emphasis on that goal, said Superintendent Dr. Steven Adamowski.

        “People tend to concentrate on areas they are being measured on,” he said.


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