Better education through comparison?
That’s the thought behind a provision in the 2011 state budget that requires the Ohio Department of Education to rank every public school and school district in the state based on students’ performance on standardized tests. The rankings include traditional public schools as well as charter schools, joint vocational school districts and STEM schools.
A school’s ranking is based on a school’s performance index, which is a weighted average that looks at the whole range of student performance on state tests, from the percentage of students who fail those tests (or aren’t tested at all) to the percentage passing and beyond, to the students acing the tests. So to calculate the index, the Department of Education multiplies the percentage of students at each level (failing, passing and so on) by a number: 1 for the percentage passing, more for students doing better and fractions for students scoring at lower levels.
Because the current accountability system measures minimum competency, it is hard to differentiate among districts that are closely ranked.
While the state report cards that schools and school districts receive each year look at both state standardized tests scores and other measures, including graduation rates and how much students learn in a particular year, these rankings look at a single measure of school performance: standardized test scores.
The release of the 2011-12 rankings has been delayed while the state auditor investigates whether some schools falsified student data to improve their report-card performance.