Eye on Education

Ohio Schools Aren’t as “Excellent” as You’d Think, Gifted Education Group Says

Welcome to Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking and all the children are above average.

Nearly 60 percent of Ohio school districts receive the state’s top grades of “excellent” or “excellent with distinction,” the equivalent of an “A” or “A-plus.” That’s four times as many top-rated districts as in 2002.

But in a new report, the Ohio Association for Gifted Children says those ratings — which are based largely on how many students pass state standardized tests and on measures of student growth on those tests — are deceiving:

Is it really possible that a majority of districts in Ohio are producing students who perform at extraordinary levels? As it turns out, the answer is a simple and resounding No. Although there are indeed some high-performing districts in Ohio, the standards used to grade districts in this state are shockingly low. The more one analyzes what it takes to be an excellent district, the clearer it becomes that something is horribly wrong with Ohio’s standards for excellence.

You can read the full report here. Its findings include:

  • That 67 of the 352 districts rated excellent or excellent with distinction had zero students take AP exams.
  • That 109 districts rated excellent or excellent with distinction had average ACT scores below the state average.
  • That 160 districts rated excellent or excellent with distinction had fewer than 20 percent of their graduating class receive diplomas with honors.
  • That 136 districts rated excellent or excellent with distinction had college remediation rates above the state average.

As we’ve reported earlier, at all levels school performance can vary widely among schools with the same grade on their state report cards. For example:

  • A school can get an “A” from the state with only half of its fifth or eighth students passing state math tests.
  • A school can get a “B” even if just half of its eighth graders pass state reading tests.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, a school can get a “D” from the state even if nearly 80 percent of its eighth graders pass state reading tests.


  • Ssolanom

    My daughter,Sarah, visited my family in Bogota, Colombia last summer. Her cousin was working in her final exams for the first grade. Sarah helped her studying since her cousin goes to a bilingual school and all test materials are in English. Sarah was amazed that her cousin who is three years younger was taking final exams that were asking the same questions in math and social sciences that she had just been asked in her fourth grade exams. Then she said: “What is more amazing is that she is reading them and answering them in English and she does not even speak English yet!”. Sarah attends one of the truly high performing districts in our state and yet our curriculum and expectations are so low that her fourth grade curriculum equals the first grade curriculum in my home country. Do you think we are ready to compete in the global economy???

    • Rebeccag125

      Is public education available to everyone in Colombia?

      • Ssolanom

        Yes. It is not just available to everyone. Some of the best schools in national testing are public schools. Even with class sizes that would be unimaginable here. 60 kids per class! My mother was a public school teacher in high and middle school (combined there) in a very poor neighborhood She would have 10 classes of 60 kids each. Yet, her school had a great degree of admission into public university and very low drop out rate. She would tell me how sometimes kids would faint in class because they had not had food (no breakfast/lunch program) but somehow they still made it to school and learned.

  • http://twitter.com/stevenn965 stevenn965

    I am glad you are investigating and reporting these things. No one locally delves into these things due to local political connections.

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