Today, the Ohio Department of Education released school report cards based on data from the 2017-18 school year. For two decades, Ohio’s report cards have offered an important annual check on the performance of school districts and public schools that serve 1.6 million K-12 students. Starting with the 2012-13 school year, Ohio has gradually implemented a new A to F report-card framework, and this year’s iteration marks the completion of this transition by instituting a summative grade for both schools and districts.
“For many years, Ohio provided an overall district and school rating,” said Chad L. Aldis, Vice President for Ohio Policy and Advocacy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. “But with the shift to more rigorous standards and assessments, the state suspended the overall designation at the end of the 2011-12 school year. This year marks a return to normalcy, as Ohio now offers an overall grade that combines its disparate report-card elements.”
“Issuing a single prominent rating, much like an overall GPA, will provide families and communities a summary of a school’s overall level of academic achievement,” Aldis continued. “At the same time, the continued availability of component grades ensures important indicators of a school’s strengths and weaknesses aren’t lost.”
The following charts display the breakdown of district- and school-level overall ratings according to geographic/demographic typologies created by the Ohio Department of Education. Figure 1 indicates that 70%, 32%, 29%, and 2% of suburban, small-town, rural, and urban districts, respectively, received an A or B rating. The overall ratings were generally higher across wealthier districts, reflecting in part the significant achievement gaps between low-income children and their peers.
Figure 1: District-level overall ratings by typology
Figure 2 shows the overall rating data at a school level, including also the state’s 260 public charter schools (excluding dropout-recovery schools which do not receive A-F ratings). Most Ohio charter schools are located in the Big Eight cities, so their results are most comparable to the ratings of Big Eight district schools. The results from the figure below indicate that charters’ overall ratings were slightly superior to comparable Big Eight district schools: 33% of charters received a C or above, while 27% of Big Eight district schools received such ratings.
Figure 2: School-level overall ratings by typology
“This year’s report cards shine a clear light on the tremendous accomplishments of Ohio students, and the educators helping them meet more demanding academic standards,” said Chad L. Aldis. “It’s critical that the introduction of an overall grade doesn’t hide the fact that student proficiency rates are up. Hundreds of deserving schools earned solid marks on their report cards. However, with yawning achievement gaps to close—and too many schools still struggling to move the needle—there is much work to be done to assure that all students have the knowledge and skills needed to thrive when they graduate high school.”
 The Big Eight refers to Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo, and Youngstown.