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Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Education

Study places Cleveland Metropolitan School District performance in context

(Plain Press, May 2015) CMSD NEWS BUREAU (4/16/2015) When poverty, other student demographic factors and past performance are taken into account, CMSD ranked slightly above average statewide on most indicators last school year, two higher-education leaders say in the draft of a new report.

Adjusting for these factors, CMSD also fared above average when compared with other members of the Ohio 8, a coalition representing urban districts, according to the draft report. In fact, the District’s adjusted performance index — a composite of achievement test scores — ranked first among these urban systems.

Cleveland State University President Ronald M. Berkman and Cuyahoga Community College President Alex Johnson presented the report to the Board of Education on Tuesday. Berkman and Johnson are non-voting, ex-officio members of the school board.

The report, prepared by CSU’s Office of Urban Education and Tri-C’s Office of Evidence and Inquiry, examined Ohio school district data from CMSD’s first full school year under The Cleveland Plan, a customized set of reforms for education in the city.

CMSD serves more students, overall, and greater proportions of students who are low-income, racial/ethnic minority, limited in English proficiency and transient. Comparing districts without taking into account past performance and demographics is like comparing apples and oranges, the draft says.

“The performance of any individual district depends not only upon the practices, efficiency, and resources of the district, per se, but also upon factors outside of the district’s direct control,” the draft says. “A large body of research shows that districts’ and schools’ performance is in part a function of the types of students served.”

Researchers used a “multiple regression model” to predict how each of Ohio’s 610 school districts would have fared last year if they all had the state’s average demographic profile and had achieved the average performance on six indicators in 2012-13.

Based on the adjusted scores, CMSD ranked above the statewide and urban averages in performance index, graduation rate, average ACT score, days of attendance and teacher “value added.” Value added measures student gains in learning over time and is used in teacher evaluations.

CMSD third-graders’ adjusted proficiency rate on the state reading assessment was three percentage points below the state average and four points below the urban average.

Berkman said Cleveland State and other institutions of higher education use similar demographic information to identify students who may be at risk of failure. He said the study offers a more balanced way to compare districts and can serve as a model.

“The entire educational biosphere will gain by what we’re seeing here,” he told the board.

Berkman and Johnson began issuing annual progress reports last year at the request of Mayor Frank G. Jackson and District Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon.

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