Monday, November 05, 2001

Some want fewer tests factored into rankings

Second-, third-grade scores at issue

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Against the recommendation of a committee of teachers, principals and administrators, some Cincinnati Public Schools board members want second- and third-graders' performance on social studies and science tests to be factored into school-by-school rankings.

        The board plans to vote on it tonight.

        Some board members also want achievement of students with special needs used as a measure in the school rankings, when possible.

        “If you don't hold schools accountable in instruction, it doesn't get done,” said board President Rick Williams.

        The school-by-school rankings are part of a districtwide accountability plan to help schools track improvement. Each school is ranked using students' performance on tests, grade passing rates, attendance and other measures.

        As part of revisions to the 3-year-old plan, a committee of 19 teachers, principals and administrators in September suggested not using second- and third-grade students' performance in social studies and science to determine a school's rank.

        Instead, reading, writing and math scores would be factored in, as well as students' test performance in all five subjects beyond third grade.

        Some committee members said they want to emphasize early literacy, which the state is doing.

        The rankings are important to schools and their staff because low-performing schools ranked in the lowest category face having their staff replaced. The school also has to develop a plan to reform.

        Schools that show the most improvement in student achievement are honored for their success and receive monetary rewards for the staff.

        Some board members worry that schools will relax their focus on social studies and science in grades two and three because school rankings won't depend on those test scores.

        “There is no more important subject than citizenship because of the threats facing this country,” said board member Harriet Russell.

        Sue Taylor, president of the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers, said teachers will not de-emphasize social studies and science simply because students' performance in those subjects is not factored into the school rankings.


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