WESTFIELD TWP. — It’s been less than a month since the Ohio Department of Education released its latest slew of grades for Ohio schools and districts, scoring public education on a scale of A to F that allows parents to see firsthand how their districts academically fare.
In Medina County, that report has put Cloverleaf Superintendent Daryl Kubilus in the position of explaining exactly why Cloverleaf received an overall grade of a D — the lowest grade in the county.
“My goal here is to answer three questions; where were we, because I think you need that perspective to understand the answer to the second question, (which) is where are we and we will understand where we are as of today and finally you will understand where we are going,” Kubilus said Monday during a school board work session.
Boiling the district’s grade down to just a few simple explanations is not easy because the state uses a complex system of standardized test scores, benchmarking metrics and averages to determine student proficiency in multiple subjects, student growth from year-to-year and how districts handle areas of progress and achievement.
When parents see the report — typically released each fall — they are seeing a set of letter grades that reflect the scores of the standardized tests administered the previous spring with some emphasize on how those scores compare to previous years.
In the case of the September report card that focused on the 2017-18 school year, Cloverleaf’s overall grade of a D was the composite grade based on the individual grades in six components: achievement, progress, gap closing, improving at-risk K-3 readers, graduation rate and prepared for success.
One particular area — progress — is where Cloverleaf received an F, the lowest possible grade, which contributed to why the district ranks at the bottom of Medina County’s seven public school districts.
Progress measures student growth based on past test score performance. Districts often use the progress grade to see if students are making more than a year’s worth of growth in one school year. The grade is calculated by averaging the district’s past three academic years.
Kubilus said it was the averaging of those past three academic years that contributed to the district’s poor progress grade on this year’s report card. The district scored an F this year as well as F grades for progress for the 2016-17 and 2015-16 school years.
Three years ago was when changes to state testing — namely Ohio leaving the multi-state consortium known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) —resulted in upheaval for many districts. The subsequent assessments, developed by the American Institutes for Research (AIR), are a more rigorous form of testing that hit Cloverleaf harder than some other area districts, Kubilus said.
Board President Jeff Schreiber asked Kubilus if all school districts in the state “stumbled” when the testing was switched.
“We stumbled worse,” Kubilus said. “The change that occurred between PARRC and AIR, we weren’t as well-prepared.”
Once the 2015-16 scores drop off of the three-year average next year, Kubilus said he anticipates Cloverleaf will have a higher grade for the progress component.
According to district improvement initiatives provided by Kubilus during the meeting, another problem facing Cloverleaf is that graduation rate as determined by the state.
Kubilus said the report measures the percentage of students that graduate in either four or five years. Cloverleaf had a four-year graduation rate of 87.8 percent and a five-year graduation rate of 91 percent.
The district receives a penalty when a student takes more than the traditional four years to graduate, as well as when students elect to drop out, he said.
“Looking at this, our reported four-year graduation rate for next year as of right now is 90.2 percent, you won’t see that on the report card until next year,” Kubilus said.
“The rate I’m concerned about, which you will never see on the report card is the real graduation rate unbounded by time, 96.7 percent.”
Kubilus said Cloverleaf’s goal is to have 99 percent of students graduate, regardless of how many years it takes for them to receive a diploma.
Board President Jeff Schreiber said that while Kubilus has acknowledged responsibility for the district’s report card performance, it is not solely the superintendent’s responsibility.
“The truth is we all own that, so as the board, superintendent, we all own that,” Schreiber said. “We are not looking as the board to accuse anyone, point fingers, be suspicious or anything.”
Schreiber said the board wants to take a look at how the district is allocating its resources and make any necessary changes for improvement.
Kubilus said that while the data metrics taken from the report can show more to the story than meets the eye, an overall D grade is simply not acceptable.
“We are committed to not having a similar result again,” he said. “The resolve for improvement never ceases.”