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Ohio supt. vows takeover if Y-town scores don’t rise

Published: Sat, August 28, 2010 @ 12:01 a.m.

Related: Mixed bag in Ohio: Marks show gains, declines from ’09


and ELISE Franco



The city school district remains the worst in the state, and the state superintendent says if improvement isn’t made, she’ll take over to do what needs to be done.

“We’re not going to continue to allow Youngstown to languish academically,” Deborah Delisle, state superintendent of public instruction said Friday. “We’re going to take steps to ensure they improve and succeed.”

State report card data for 2009-10 released by the Ohio Department of Education show Youngstown remains in academic emergency, the only district in the state with the lowest designation.

“Since this designation [last year], an academic distress commission has adopted an Academic Recovery Plan and is working with the district to implement this plan in the upcoming school year,” Delisle said.

An overall goal of the $3.2 million plan is to have the district designated no lower than continuous improvement by 2015. It includes steps aimed at moving the district out of the bottom.

While Delisle said there are no guarantees, the recovery plan includes a benchmarking system and, on a quarterly basis, she will review the district’s progress.

If it doesn’t improve, De-lisle said she will be “entering the school district and taking over to do what needs to be done.”

Some of the benchmarks include increasing the graduation rate by 2 percent. It also calls for reducing the percentage of students not proficient in math and reading in each subgroup by 10 percent as measured by the Ohio Achievement Assessments and the Ohio Graduation tests. Subgroups include all students, students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students and students with limited English proficiency.

Anthony Catale, city school board president, said the academic-emergency designation is unacceptable and disappointing. “Our students deserve better and the city of Youngstown deserves better,” he said.

The district must ensure the resources are in place to fully implement the academic recovery plan. Everyone involved — the school board, academic distress commission, fiscal oversight commission, teachers and staff — must work collectively to improve the district, Catale said.

While the city schools are at the bottom, six Mahoning Valley districts — Columbiana, Poland, Western Reserve, Bloomfield-Mespo, Champion and Maplewood — rated excellent with distinction, the highest designation. It’s the second year that Champion earned the rating and the first for the others, all of which were designated excellent last year.

In Mahoning County, only one other district saw improvement. Austintown went from effective last year to excellent this year.

Both Canfield and Springfield had earned excellent with distinction last year and slipped to excellent this year.

Springfield Superintendent Debra Mettee said though the district wasn’t able to earn excellent with distinction two years in a row, she’s proud of teachers and students for the improvements that were made.

“This year we got all 26 of our indicators, and last year we had 22,” she said. “We have our kids working hard and getting their year’s growth. I think that’s hard for any district to get that extra distinction two years in a row.”

Mettee said some extra attention should be focused on fifth grade math and reading and overall performance at the high school.

There were some bright spots on Youngstown’s report card.

“Our performance index score increased,” said John T. Allen, ombudsman for the city schools. That score, which rewards the achievement of every student, not just those who score proficient of higher, increased from 70.2 last year to 72.4 on the latest report card.

The district also saw gains in the performance of fifth through eighth grade students, Allen said, which is where the district focused its efforts based on last year’s report card. But performance fell in third and fourth grades.

The district would have received an academic watch designation, one step above academic emergency, if not for the value-added measure, Allen said. It’s the same measure that knocked Youngstown from watch to emergency last year.

Value added measures how much progress students have made since the prior year. It’s calculated for districts and schools with grades four through eight in reading and math.

For the second year, the Youngstown Early College earned an excellent designation. Paul C. Bunn and William Holmes McGuffey Elementary schools also saw improvement, both moving from academic watch last year to continuous improvement on the latest report card.

Volney Rogers Middle School also improved from academic emergency to academic watch.

Individual city schools that saw decreases were Harding Elementary which dropped from continuous improvement to academic emergency; and Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary which fell from continuous improvement to academic watch.

“With the state plan — the academic recovery plan — and a good, five-year [financial] forecast, with all of those things, it’s the perfect time for a new superintendent to come in,” Allen said. Wendy Webb, superintendent since 2004, is retiring at the end of the year.

In Trumbull County, Warren ranked one rung above Youngstown, at academic watch, for the second year. Brookfield improved from continuous improvement to effective; Liberty, Lordstown and Mathews all increased from effective to excellent; and McDonald fell from effective to continuous improvement.

Liberty Superintendent Stanley Watson said the district is proud of its improvement but it doesn’t mean there’s no more work to do, to not lose ground and to continue to move forward.

“We need to continue to focus on individual learners and make sure we look at each student individually,” he said.

Students learn differently and instruction must be tailored to individual students. There’s a lot of work to that, Watson said, including getting information about students to their teachers.

“A lot of the focus of that is making sure we’re meeting and talking to students to make sure we’re reaching every one of them,” he said.

School principals work as leaders to accomplish that goal.

“The engine of this is our middle school and Peggy Dolwick is the principal [at W.S. Guy Middle School],’ Watson said. “Our middle school kids improved in every single area.”

After being excellent with distinction two years in a row, Howland dropped back to excellent this year.

Superintendent John Sheets said the report card data will be reviewed and teachers will address students’ needs to try and achieve excellent with distinction again next year.

“We have to review the data for student growth in one year’s time for reading and math,” he said. “We remain an excellent school system, and we’re going to continue to take steps to move up again in the future.”

Sheets said after looking over preliminary report card results, he was aware of the district’s rating.

“We knew [math and reading] was an area where we needed to look at the growth data that kicks you up,” he said.

In Columbiana County, East Palestine and Salem’s designations increased from effective last year to excellent this year. Lisbon improved from continuous improvement to effective.

Donald Mook, superintendent of Columbiana Exempted Village Schools, credits the work of both teachers and students in achieving the high marks. He said the district focuses on reading and math across the board, at all grade levels.

“Our students spend more time in reading and math than in any other area,” he said.

The district also has frameworks in place to make sure teachers are teaching to the standards.

“That’s a real credit to our teaching staff,” Mook said.

The district had its opening day with teaching staff and the report card results were a source of pride among those attending.


1northsideperson(366 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

With all due respect, Supt. Delisle, I don't think you'll be able to do much with it.

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2TB(1167 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

And it looks like most of you don't understand the state report card system, you just know the final designation. Look it up before you cast stones.

how many of you have actually been in one of the Ytown schools recently?

"Since this designation [last year], an academic distress commission has adopted an Academic Recovery Plan and is working with the district to implement this plan in the upcoming school year"
I wonder how many of the new Superintendent candidates have seen the plan. It will be interesting to watch the state come in and achieve nearly the same results.

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3Life888(17 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

I gradulated from Hubbard High School in 2009, and I am so glad that I did not go to Youngstown Schools. When I have children someday, I will not let them go to Youngstown Schools. I might send them to a school district in Mercer County, P.A.

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4UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

The Youngstown School System can't be fixed unless the parents of the Youngstown kids start to participate in their kids educational process. The parents who do care have pulled them out and sent them elsewhere for a good education. Several teachers I know who can't wait to retire say the parents of their kids never show any interest in their kids education at all. In some cases they have never even met the parents during the school year. The kids come for the free meals and babysitting service that the day provides.

How sad that the Youngstown urban parental population has no interest in educational benefits for their kids. No wonder these urban kids all end up as gangstas hanging out on the street corners of Market Street doing bad things.

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5atownreader(34 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

As usual, whoever writes and approves your articles has made an error in omitting Struthers City Schools as achieving an excellent rating.

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6Heartland(38 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Lombardo has 394 comments and all are negative. Just one more cry baby cranky conservative who even his mother couldn't love.

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7sue(178 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

I recently read that Youngstown City Schools spends $5,000 per year per pupil more than either Canfield, Boardman or Poland. The bottom line is that you could spend $20,000 more per child and it would not make an appreciable difference. When mothers give birth to children at 16 and there is no father in the home a child cannot flourish. If there are no books, magazines or newspapers in the home the child will not learn how to read well. If neither parent has a job you cannot learn a work ethic. This has become a sad cycle of ignorance and poverty that applies not just to Youngstown but to urban districts all over the country.

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8dreamcatcher52(140 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Why didn't the Vindy point out that the Independent District (aka Charter schools) has a higher percentage of schools in academic emergency than YCS? Oh, that's right, the charter schools are viewed one by one and not as a single district. If the Vindy wants to play the numbers game (as the ODE does), we can play too. I could spin this story positively or negatively. Those of us who are in the schools every day know the truth. And that includes the teachers in the suburbs who might be tempted to pat themselves on the back. I say congratulations to the PARENTS, STUDENTS and teachers who achieved excellent ratings. And to the PARENTS, STUDENTS and teachers in the districts that are not performing well, we need to keep working at it.

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9debba(2 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Although everyone may have their own valid points - I'm a parent of a child that is in the Youngstown City School system. I do agree that you cannot count on the teachers alone for your childs education because it is our responsibillity as a parent to make sure there is communication with both our child and the school. But as this school year has started off, I'm totally frustrated with the system already. My child sits in a room watching a movie because there are no schedules due to "technical difficulties". I'm sorry that is totally unacceptable. Why start these children back early this year when the system isn't even ready for them? Of course last year was chaos for the first three weeks of school also due to schedule changes. I can only give YCS one more year of time for my child and then I'm done with them (if I would've had my way my child would already be out but she wanted to stay one more year with her friends because she knows she's going elsewhere for high school). One more year of frustration and I know my child will the get the education she deserves even if we have to pay for it. I do hope for the sake of the children that remain in the YCS system that it gets turned around and soon.

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10dreamcatcher52(140 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

The early start date is totally the BOE doing. And I agree it is unacceptable for schools to open without schedules completed. There are always some changes due to late enrollments, etc., but to have the kind of problems some schools are having is ridiculous. Two schools still don't have principals. With the academic team's plan taking so long to be finished and get final approval, this was the worst time to start the school year early. Maybe it's time for the citizens to go to a board meeting and ask why this was done.

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11Ytownboy(142 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

I don't see what liberals have to do with this. What could conservatives do with Y town schools? In case you didn't know, the worst educated states are predominately conservative.

Kids at Y town schools have allot of inherent disadvantages: Enormous poverty, racial segregation, blight, environmental problems, crime, etc.

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12Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

They will be taking over a sinking ship . Keep bailing so it doesn't go to the bottom . But hey, waite a minute ! We are on the bottom ! Dump the ballast and lets bring it back up .

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13TB(1167 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

excellent point Ytownboy.

debba, excellent questions to ask the administration and at a board meeting. start going and holding their feet to the fire! don't let them pass the buck!

"The bottom line is that you could spend $20,000 more per child and it would not make an appreciable difference."

The flip side of this argument about how much is spent could be true as well. If the kids in Ytown didn't have the money spent, how much lower would their scores be?

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14southsidedave(5183 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Education begins at home, and I fully agree with one of the comments that teachers cannot perform their jobs without help from the parents...Therefore, spending more money will not alleviate the problem.

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15Teacher12(27 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

As a Union member Teacher in Youngstown, Scheduling WAS NOT ALLOWED to start until Mid August because the STATE Commissions were holding things up. They moved at their own pace and like this board of education and central office staff, truly do not have the best interest of the children at heart, and NEVER DID!!!!!!!!!
Show any other district around were the first three to six weeks and sometime even more, schedules are not done. All we here in teachers meets, we don't care about the children or we don't know how to teach urban children. That's BS!!!!!! Do we make the schedules? No! That's administration's job....ohhh the same ones that get large raises every year!!!!!
Now, As for the the State supt. wanting to take over the district. That could be good or bad. Good in the since if the fire EVERYONE that decide educational decisions. They are the ones that put us in this mess, not the teachers. On the other hand bad because we get students coming back from charter schools. Their scores are at best two grade levels behind their peers that did not leave. So, when OGT's come along, they HURT our scores.
Let's mention what Mr. Allen was quoted about we would have made continuos improvement if not for valued added. Valued added is so sort of formula that factors out all the baggage an urban student brings to school with him/her to school to make them 'equal' to a suburban student. Lets think about it for a minute. Only in fantasy land can you take away the fact a kid could and often comes to school hungary, dirty, or spent the night before on the streets because they had no were to go. We face the real world everyday. Columbus and Washington better open their eyes to the fact everyone is different, some the same cookie cutter ideas work in the real world.

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16redvert(2226 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Let me say what I know that some of you are thinking and I am sure the answer is in the data set. It may be politically incorrect but:

Are all schools in the Youngstown district below standard or just some of them?

What is the breakdown by RACE of kids that are below standard? Are the below standard students all white, black, spanish or what?

Is the problem with the urban or suburban student as Teacher12 stated?

Once you know the above you can address the issue since there are lots of factors to consider but some are "unmentionable"

There are also a lot of kids that either do not really care to learn and/or do not have their parents support.

Let us quit dancing around the subject!

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17Education_Voter(1114 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Redvert, the "Achievement Gap" is indeed a big part of the problem. That is why Bellamy (see his earlier post) challenged Jimma MacWilson.

It's a stubborn problem, and I don't think that the segregation in most Valley districts is helping. Before you can work like suburban kids, you need to be aware of the level of work there.

The state superintendent dragged her feet with the Academic Distress Commission causing the delays mentioned in above posts. I am a little shocked that she would then act like she's calling folks out.

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18mrblue(1175 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Let the state take over. They will not do any better simply because the parents do not care. If the parents don't show an interest, neither will the kids. Teachers are there to teach, not babysit. If a child doesn't want to learn-------no teacher in the world can make him/her. No amount of motivation will help. Lazy parents breed lazy kids.

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19dreamcatcher52(140 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

I am starting more and more to agree with those who think a county-wide school system would be a solution. All the poor minority students would not have to be concentrated in the inner city. Maybe if these students were spread out into Austintown, Canfield, Boardman, Poland, Lowellville, Struthers, and Campbell they would begin to emulate their classmates who have come from homes that have middle class values.

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20TB(1167 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

"The state superintendent dragged her feet with the Academic Distress Commission causing the delays mentioned in above posts. I am a little shocked that she would then act like she's calling folks out."

hahaha the state got themselves into a hole here, realizing that, ONCE AGAIN, they put the cart before the horse. they introduced timelines, etc. that they couldn't follow and also read the writing on the wall...that pretty much every urban center is on the verge of state receivership. they were crapping their pants because they had no plan in place and Ytown got to be the guinea pig.

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21TB(1167 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

that shows that the tests are simply skewed to favor those districts...that there's a problem with the testing documents.

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22Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

censoredship :

"Lazy parents breed lazy kids."

A lot of these kids are up early in the morning plundering . They are very ambitious . They fight with with rivals over drug territory . Marketing skills in selling drugs are second to none . Lazy ? Naw, it's just the culture .

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23TB(1167 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

This from the guy who spends all day commenting on a website

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24Valleys_Voice(149 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

@ teacher12,

Your grammar and mispelled words are the reason Youngstown city school students are at a reading and writing disadvantage.

They need to start imprisoning these parents for abandoning their children and develop dormitories with strict rules for these kids. Next, clean house in Warren, Warrensville Heights, Youngstown, East Cleveland, and Lorain. Any teacher failing more than 5 kids should be fired. It's partly the students fault, but look at the teachers not enforcing anything or trying to reach out to the student.

As a previous Youngstown City School grad, seeing what condition the school system is in is sickening. If I were a student there today, I would boycott the professors and picket outside the school. You spend millions on rebuilding the schools but hire the cheapest, must inefficient teacher available, and alot with that minimal student take advantage of their new resources. It's sad, it really is.

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25Education_Voter(1114 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

uh-oh Valleys Voice. The trouble with criticizing another poster for grammatical errors is that the reader's eye is then drawn with magnetic force to the critic's own flaws.
These are posts, not finished articles.

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26Education_Voter(1114 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Check out this hilarious spoof of pundits on test scores.
Warning: Don't go here if you can't take strong language (you know, the words the kids use in the halls).

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