The Dayton Daily News today weighed in on the big penalty given to Kettering Schools by Ohio’s Department of Education (ODE) in the latest State Report Card. The spirit and substance of the DDN editorial is captured in its title, “Give Students Help, Not Just Complaints.”
The DDN got it wrong. The newspaper doesn’t like the fact that Kettering Superintendent Jim Schoenlein called the state’s ranking system “unfair” and “bizarre.” But it seems any fair observer would agree with Dr. Schoenlein. (You can download a copy of the new ODE Report Card for Kettering Schools and read my article about it here.)
To imply, as DDN does, that Kettering Schools is more centered on complaining about Ohio’s system of school evaluation rather than on helping students is simply unfair. It’s a cheap, unfounded, shot.
Kettering’s “Grade” was knocked down four pegs — from “Excellence With Distinction” to “CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT” — not three pegs as DDN reported. I think the words “unfair” and “bizarre” are appropriate. Kettering got a huge penalty because the reading scores for Kettering students in two subgroups did not meet Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) for three years. By its headline — “Give Students Help — Not Just Complaints” — the DDN accuses Kettering Schools of not making a good effort to give students in these subgroups help. The newspaper makes this accusation without showing any insight into what Kettering has actually been doing to help children in these two challenging subgroups.
The DDN says, “Certainly, Kettering needs to focus more attention on English learners and those in special education.”
Really? This is a serious accusation. But, how can DDN make such an accusation when it gives no evidence that it has any inkling of how much attention and effort is already being extended to these two subgroups? The newspaper gives no evidence that it has any understanding of how Kettering responded to previous AYP deficiencies. It gives no evidence that its criticism is based on such important facts as how much money Kettering spends in these two areas, how the money is spent, or what special efforts Kettering has attempted in these two areas over the last few years. The DDN gives no evidence that it has any understanding or really any interest in how Kettering has or has not modified and improved its strategies with the children in these two subgroups. The newspaper’s sole basis for slamming Kettering Schools is that these two subgroups got low scores. Isn’t there a whole lot more to the story? I intend on researching the whole question.
I’m disappointed that DDN has published an unfair and unjustified editorial accusing Kettering Schools of negligence in its efforts to help special education students and students who are learning English as a second language. By not taking the time to research what Kettering Schools are actually doing, by taking a cheap shot, DDN in its editorial today does a disservice to the community of Kettering.