By DAVID GREEN
The Fayette school district is about to drop a grade on the state’s rating list, but it won’t be alone. Nearly every school in the state is expected to move downward as state education officials toughen the standards.
Gov. John Kasich’s new accountability proposal is waiting for final approval from federal officials through the No Child Left Behind program, but the effect of the changes is already known.
Fayette’s current “excellent” rating drops to a B grade with the new standards. That’s the same for every other district in the county that has the top rating. Schools will now be rated on letter grades from A to F.
Secondary principal Dan Feasel told board of education members Monday night that 72 percent of the state’s public schools were rated “proficient” or higher, but most of them will now go to a “B” grade.
“You get to the next hoop and you conquer it, then they’ll find a way to change it,” he said.
Gov. Kasich was pushing hard for charter schools when he came into office, Feasel said, but only 22 percent of those school reached proficiency and many will receive Fs.
“He might be pushing in the wrong direction,” Feasel said.
When too many districts achieve proficiency, it must be considered too easy, said superintendent Russ Griggs. The schools are dropped down and they can climb back up again.
State education officials believe the current system really is too easy. State superintendent Stan Heffner told reporters that instead of preparing students for college, schools are asked to help students meet minimum standards of proficiency and promoting mediocrity.
Despite a large number of “excellent” ratings, state officials say that 40 percent of Ohio high school graduates needed remedial help in math and English at college.
The current system lets kids down, Heffner said.
In addition to the new letter grade system, district will need to make a move toward implementing Common Core Standards throughout the grades.
Examples given of a more rigorous curriculum include a requirement for writing more argument-based and opinion pieces rather than summary reports. Students will need to discuss what they’ve learned and support their ideas. More complex mathematics concepts will be introduced at a younger age.
Another change on the horizon comes in the testing program because the existing tests are seen as incapable of measuring the new standards.
Although the tests have not yet been created, it’s known they will be taken via a computer, with results returned within a week or two.
Fayette elementary school principal Dr. Luann Boyer told the board about another coming change that could prove controversial. Any third grade student that isn’t reading at grade level by the end of the year will be retained.
That would come at the end of intensive intervention. Any student in kindergarten through second grade that is performing below grade level must have his or her individual intervention plan with detailed monitoring of progress.
After two years or more of intervention, a student would automatically be held back if not performing at grade level.
The governor is also pushing for a plan that would allow outsiders to evaluate teachers and put in place a means of terminating low-performing teachers who haven’t responded sufficiently from professional development help.
SIGNS—Griggs said that financial assistance might come ODOT to help with the erection of directional signs on the two state highways near the school.
TRIPS—The board approved two FFA trips: a trip to Camp Muskingum in Carrollton, Ohio, June 25-29, traveling by bus with the Delta FFA organization and one to attend Washington Leadership Conferences in Washington, D.C., traveling by airplane and public transportation with Wauseon FFA Advisor.
COACHES—The following coaches were approved: Adam Ohlemacher and David Conklin, assistant junior high track; Alissa Stockburger, assistant volleyball; Danni Keefer, volleyball; Sarah Bird, JV girls basketball; Tim Nicely, varsity girls basketball; Matt Maginn, JV boys basketball.
STAFF—Family leave was approved for Beth Schaffner from April 16 to May 29.