Tests, report cards don't reveal truth about the Youngstown City Schools
The assumptions and accusations by newly-elected Youngstown City School Board member Clarence Boles regarding the latest Ohio School Report Card for the city reveal a tragic misunderstanding of the actual meaning of the city's scores. Boles' comments compound the fictional belief that the city scores mean that the educators employed by YCS are less than competent and are ineffective as educators; nothing could be further from the truth.
Having spent many years as a faculty member at YSU researching the substance and nature of Ohio's system of proficiency testing and school accountability models, I find that the evidence is perfectly clear that neither the tests nor the Ohio School Report Card are in any way trustworthy indicators of the impact a district's educators are actually having on the academic achievement of its students. Whether a district is actually performing effectively is impossible to tell from the report card scores.
Because some districts start with children of economically advantaged families and communities and others start with children of far less advantaged environments, the actual impact a given staff has on its students is masked by the failure of the proficiency tests and report card to validly measure just how much the educators of a district are actually moving the students along the road of achievement.
The fact of the matter is that my own research demonstrated that in 1999, Youngstown City's educators were among the most effective in the entire state, falling into the highest 10 percent of the most effective districts among the 593 Ohio school districts I studied. Likewise, I have worked closely over the years with YCS educators, including classroom teachers and central office educators.
I can say without hesitation or qualification that the educators of Youngstown City Schools are among the most effective, caring and dedicated professionals I have ever worked with.
If we were to magically switch the staff of YCS and another district with similarly outstanding educators, but one that benefits from a student population that has significantly greater economic advantage, we could see no significant change in the school report card ratings for either school district after five years. (We know this from the detailed analysis of data collected by the state.) Yet there are those who would still bash the YCS personnel irrespective of the true nature of their proven effectiveness.
To bash the dedicated staff of YCS based upon a proven invalid system of accountability and based upon ignorance of what the underlying state data actually reveal if we look deeply enough is a moral outrage and an insult to the intelligence of the entire community, especially the dedicated professionals working in YCS. Board members as well as all other area stakeholders must recognize the true nature of the YCS staff and offer them the praise, support and advocacy they so richly deserve.
RANDY L. HOOVER, Ph.D.
XThe writer is a member of the faculty in the Department of Teacher Education of Beeghly College of Education at Youngstown State University
Less greed can pay off
GM's fourth quarter profits of $225 million were achieved because GM chose to be less greedy than it had been in other recession quarters. The company had a choice of lowering interest rates and achieving a modest (for them) profit or maintaining interest rates and living with a deficit in the fourth quarter.
This example of less greed in the short run has been used elsewhere in the world to modest advantage. Unfortunately the benefits of low and no interest rates are not a habit GM is likely to sustain.