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Is Ohio’s Education System Really Number Five?

January 27, 2010

In a rare moment of unity this week during Governor Stricklands’s State of the State speech, both Republicans and Democrats stood to applaud Ohio’s rise in the education rankings to number five.  The rankings are based on Education Week’s Quality Counts 2010 Report (sorry, you need a subscription to access the report).  The report is an annual ranking of all fifty states on education policy and performance over several indicators.  Ohio was ranked sixth in the nation in 2009 and has climbed (with a grade of B-) to number five in the 2010 report.

As I read the report, I scratched my head a bit.  Really, Ohio is number five?  I won’t go into the merits of the metrics used in the ranking system.  For a rundown on that, you may wish to check out the State of Ohio Education or Education Gadfly blogs, both of which have covered this issue.   And I really don’t want to bash all the good Ohio educators out in the field who are proud of this ranking.  However, I do think it bears mentioning that the factors used to rank the quality of education in the Ohio Counts report don’t really have much to do with student achievement.  As a parent, a taxpayer, and a longtime advocate for high ability students, the measurements that interest me have to do with the numbers of eighth students taking Algebra, the numbers of students scoring well on AP exams, and performance at advanced levels on the NAEP exams.  These are the kind of measures that speak to opportunities for students to really achieve.

When these metrics are examined more closely, a less than top ten performance emerges:  Ohio’s ranking on the percent of schools where 8th graders taking Algebra is the norm?  Number 28.  Ohio’s ranking on the number of students with high AP scores? Number 27.  Percent of students achieving at advanced levels on the 8th grade NAEP math exam?  Ohio is ranked a stellar number 33.

Clearly, for high ability kids, Ohio is not a number five state in which to live.  Heck, we aren’t even in the top half of the country.  Ohio’s accountability system currently has no measure that relates to students achieving above proficiency.  Everyone knows that if you don’t measure it, it doesn’t happen.  The addition of a performance indicator for gifted children on the state report card could help if it is implemented in a meaningful way.  But by and large, Ohio’s education system is geared toward proficiency.  Until we go beyond the mindset that mediocre equals excellent, Ohio will never be at the top of the rankings in a way that will benefit all of Ohio’s students – especially those who are already beyond proficient.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mary Collier permalink
    January 29, 2010 6:41 pm

    Ann, why don’t you submit some this or a slightly abbreviated version in a letter to the Columbus Dispatch, etc.?

  2. djkorn1 permalink
    November 7, 2011 11:56 pm

    The problem in Ohio is NCLB. We are wasting all of our resources trying to get kids who have special needs proficient when they will never be. Until we change the way we measure kids, the gifted kids get left behind while all the kids ‘close’ to passing get the attention.

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