Columbus City School Students Earn Top Rating From Department Of Education

The Ohio Department of Education recently released the first annual report on students’ progress using value-added data for Ohio’s 610 school districts. The students of Columbus City Schools earned the district the highest rating possible from the state, achieving over a year’s worth of academic progress in a single school year. CCS joins other local suburban school districts, such as Bexley, Dublin, Hilliard, New Albany-Plain and Upper Arlington that are ranked in the top category. This rating puts CCS in the top half of all school districts across the state, surpassing Grandview Heights and Worthington City Schools, the only district in Franklin County given the “A” rating by the state of Ohio.


This data shows the enormous gains that Columbus Public School teachers make with their students. “Our students are growing more academically than anywhere in Central Ohio,” responded Columbus Education Association President Rhonda Johnson. “With the implementation of value-added, the high performance of our students and teachers have truly been documented in a way that has not yet accurately been shown on state report cards.”

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Three color-coded ratings are used to determine the progress of school districts as well as individual schools within each district. Earning a green rating indicates that district’s students have exceeded a year’s worth of academic growth in one school year; yellow indicates students have achieved a year’s worth of growth in one school year, and a red rating indicates students have not made a full year’s worth of academic growth in one school year.


Value-added measurement is the method used to analyze student scores on standardized test over two or more different points in time. By looking at how a student’s test scores change, the growth of individual students or groups can be shown over time. A recent three-year study conducted by Ohio University showed that there is a clear connection between school districts that use value-added information to make strategic decisions and improved student achievement.


Ohio law required the Ohio Department of Education to implement a value-added progress system for school districts and individual buildings in the areas of math and reading for grades 3-8 by July of 2007, which it has done. State-issued report cards for buildings and school districts will reflect the information for 2007-2008. Schools that make the “Green” rating of showing more than one year’s academic growth for two consecutive years will move up one rating on the Ohio School Report Card.


This closer look at student achievement could be misinterpreted by some as an effort to gather more data on the effectiveness of individual teachers. The state will not issue teacher-level value added reports to the public, but reports on individual subject, school and grade level value added areas will be available. “There is no way value-added could be used against teachers.” says CEA President Rhonda Johnson. “There is an article in the contract that prevents administrators from using standardized test scores to evaluate Association members. As teachers, we could put our heads in the sand,” continues Johnson, “and say that we don’t need to look at what goes on in our classroom in order to improve instruction. That’s not something we can afford to do.” Individual value-added student information will only be released to teachers, students’ parent or guardian and appropriate school personnel, added Johnson.


In 2002 President Johnson co-signed an agreement with Superintendent Dr. Gene Harris to involve the districts’ schools in Battelle For Kids’ Project SOAR. SOAR participating school districts across Ohio that use value-added analysis to help improve student achievement in science, social studies, reading and math. Participating schools are able to log into a secure website run by Battelle For Kids and analyze the data to help guide their professional development and instruction. “Anything that we can do as teachers to help direct truly meaningful professional development and assist us in analyzing school data, sharing our strengths and working on our weaknesses together will be an asset in the long run.” says Johnson.

The Ohio Department of Education submitted a proposal to the United States Department of Education in the fall of 2006 to allow Ohio to use value-added in a way that could enable schools to meet Adequate Yearly Progress if their performance on the current indicators fall short. If the students in a middle school failed to make AYP as a result of poor test scores, then the state would look at the school’s value added data. If the affected students are projected to reach proficiency the year after matriculating out of middle school, then the state (and federal government) would consider AYP to be met. No extra state funding will be connected with value-added data, nor is maintaining existing funding levels dependent on value-added performance.