Eye on Education

Ohio’s Educational System Promotes a “False Sense of Achievement,” Schools Chief Says

Ohio Department of Education

Superintendent of Public Instruction Stan Heffner says Ohio is asking too little of its students.

Ohio schools need to step up, state schools chief Stan Heffner says.

In a presentation to the Ohio School Boards Association, Heffner said that students need to graduate high school ready for a postsecondary education or for job training programs. But even though 57% of Ohio schools get an “A” or better from the state, less than half of all high school graduates are completely ready for college-level work, he said.

Why the disconnect?

Here’s how Heffner explains it:

Why is this happening? The raw cut scores for proficiency levels on the Ohio Achievement Assessments and Ohio Graduation Test are shockingly low.

Furthermore, cut scores for levels of “accelerated” or “advanced,” which are used to increase a district’s performance index are often particularly low.

Cut scores are the test scores that separate students at different levels of achievement. The “passing grade” on a test is a cut score. For example, on Ohio’s sixth grade reading test, which has the lowest cut score of Ohio’s state tests, students need to get 17 of 49 questions correct to pass.

In Ohio, cut scores are set by the State Board of Education.

Heffner’s says Ohio can do better:

It is clear we are not asking enough of our students. We are setting the bar too low and creating false successes and a false sense of achievement.

And since he was talking to an audience mostly of school board members, Heffner offered them some advice to take home to their local districts:

  • Get ready for the tougher content standards and tests that will start in 2014-15;
  • Start every school board meeting with an update on your district’s plan for adapting to those changes;
  • Get ready for the end of federal Race to the Top funding (if you have it); and
  • Compare yourself to similar districts and learn from them.




  • Alan Zubyk

    Let’s put Stan in a sixth grade classroom with 1/3 of the class on an IEP in an urban school district, tell him his pay will be merit-based on those students’ performance on 1 test, and let’s see how well those kids perform. Come on Stan, take the challenge!

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