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Many city students score better than those who fled

Published: Thu, October 13, 2011 @ 12:08 a.m.

By Denise Dick



City school students who attended private schools using EdChoice vouchers didn’t fare much better on the latest state report card than their counterparts who stayed in the city district — and in some cases, they fared worse.

“Evidently, they’re leaving our school system for reasons other than academics,” said Superintendent Connie Hathorn.

The exodus may be because of the perception that the schools aren’t safe, he said.

The Educational Choice Scholarship (EdChoice) Pilot Program was created to provide students from underperforming public schools the opportunity to attend participating private schools. The program provides up to 60,000 EdChoice scholarships to eligible students.

In Youngstown last year, 695 students exercised the EdChoice voucher option, up from 515 students the previous year.

Because state funding follows the student, Youngstown schools lost $3.6 million last year and $2.7 million in state support the previous year through the voucher program.

But the latest report card scores show that while city students who exercised that option fared slightly better in some areas, they performed more poorly in others.

EdChoice students in third through eighth grade are required to take the Ohio Achievement Assessments. EdChoice students in 10th grade are required to take the Ohio Graduation Tests.

Fifth-graders in the city schools, for example, scored 46.6 percent proficient or above in reading and 33 percent proficient or above in math.

Fifth-graders from the city who used EdChoice scored 57 percent in reading and 23.8 percent in math.

In eighth grade, city school students scored 56.5 percent at or above proficient in reading, compared to 52.9 percent of the EdChoice students.

In math, city eighth-graders scored 29.4 percent proficient or above, compared to 17.6 percent of their EdChoice counterparts.

Patrick Gallaway, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Education, said the assessment data reported are from the spring administrations of the Ohio Assessment and Ohio Graduation tests.

Assessment data for schools with fewer than 10 EdChoice students taking the tests in a particular grade level aren’t reported because of student confidentiality.

The scores are of 80 students who have been participating in EdChoice for one year, 79 for between one and three years, and 30 students for more than three years.

The difference in numbers as between those reported by ODE as taking the tests and those exercising the EdChoice option is likely due to some nonpublic schools not reporting all data.

The department only reports assessment data for a student who has a Statewide Student Identifier number.

“Although our staff has created a tool to assist our private schools with assuring the SSID makes it to the test booklet, not all of them use our tool,” Gallaway said.

If test data can’t be identified with the SSID, ODE does not report it, he said.

“We have to figure out why they are leaving,” Hathorn said. “We’ve made progress, and we’re going to continue to make progress. There’s a sense of urgency that we have to improve.”


1Stan(9923 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

“We have to figure out why they are leaving,” Hathorn said. “We’ve made progress, and we’re going to continue to make progress. There’s a sense of urgency that we have to improve.”

Perhaps they are being forced out by the thugs . . ..

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2FifthAve(168 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

This story contradicts the premise that private schools and their teachers are better than public schools.

In fact, public schools do more to train their teachers to meet the challenges of reading and math tests. Private school curriculum is not driven by state competency tests.

While vouchers appear to give parents and students choices, in reality they only shift the population without addressing the issues that prevent students from achieving academic success.

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3SAVEOURCOUNTRY(467 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

tell the truth. Vouchers are for the charter and private school operators to make money off the tax paying public. they don't care if kids learn anything as long as they make money

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4countryboymark(25 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Do you realize how small of a sample size of EDchoice students are compared to the entire city school population? it's not apples to apples...

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5Not_Gilligans_Ginger(126 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

The Catholic school where I work has noticed that many city students are ill-prepared for our curriculum. They enter our school with math and reading deficits and are unable to keep up. Also, as a tuition-paying parent of a Catholic school student and a city income and property tax payer, I abhor the EdChoice program. I think the parents of the EdChoice students should have to pay something to attend Catholic school or at the very least donate their time in the cafeteria, on the playground, or during special evening events. 'Nuff said...

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6Stan(9923 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

"Because state funding follows the student, Youngstown schools lost $3.6 million last year and $2.7 million in state support the previous year through the voucher program. "

Thug culture forcing students to leave does have its price . . ..

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7Superstar7(121 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Reasons for leaving:
Disipline problems overwhelm Y.Town city schools, as they have for over two decades.
YTown school board refuse to accept that dysfunctional mothers & grandmothers generate disfuctional children.
The teachers cannot repair what the "parents" & inner the city community ruin.
Strict disipline is REQUIRED!.
Two strikes & not only out, remove parent from government housing. No more money from the governments for cell phones & drugs. School Board: GET THE PARENTS ATTENTION OR YOU ARE EQUALLY REASPONSIBLE.
Columbus: replace the dysfunctional school board members, or disipline will continue to overwhelm any attempt to help the few students trying to accept an education.

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8Education_Voter(838 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

CountryBoyMark said,
"Do you realize how small of a sample size of EDchoice students are compared to the entire city school population? it's not apples to apples..."

NO KIDDING, COUNTRY BOY! But the advantage is to the EdChoice students.
For example, many of the best students of Kirkmere went to the parochial school across the street, in protest of students from the closed Cleveland Elementary integrating Kirkmere.
Those students are actually losing ground at parochial school. Their former classmates at Volney Rogers, have left them in the dust -- but Volney's scores get lost when averaged with the whole city.
Compared to the parochial/Christian school students score of 41.2% passing rate in math in 6th grade, my students at Volney had an 80% passing rate. (And 85% in reading, also passing the choice students). Volney students as a whole, including some severely disabled students who parochial schools do not take, still beat the voucher score in math, getting a 57% passing rate.
The Catholic Schools and Youngstown Christian sort through applicants before accepting them, and throw students out at will afterward.

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9iBuck(210 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Proper statistical comparison would require doing before and after tests on the same students. E.g. taking 2K students who stayed with the city's schools and 2K who went elsewhere using the vouchers. Test them all before and all a year after the shifts. Then compare the change in performance in those who stayed in the city with the change in performance in those who went elsewhere.

We used to do this with comparing results for students who did and did not take computer-based education, for instance.

The problem could be that all of the city students were doing poorly all along, but with the other students leaving some of those left behind might do better. Or the other way around, maybe some of the students who used the vouchers were doing poorly all along, so any improvement might be swamped by their long-term inadequate preparation up to the move. Oh, and there's a sort of placebo effect, merely being measured can cause performance to increase (or decrease). Only by carefully isolating all the different scenarios, and with enough students in each group, can we eventually tell which worked best.

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10Education_Voter(838 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Of course, the ODE could have done a value-added score as they do for all of the public school students.

That score would have provided the difference in growth.

The Ohio Legislature had to be forced to provide even these scores. They CHOOSE to not provide value added scores for these students.
Do you think that is accidental? Of course not. Their intent is transferring tax funds to private schools, and deception is necessary.

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11jonnyquest(20 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Back in the day, I went to 12 years Catholic schools, and I feel I got a great education.My 30 year old son went to Immaculate Heart of Mary for 1st and 2nd grade. 3rd grade I had to switch him to Watson Elementary. He was put in special classes because his reading level was low. Watson had classes and well trained teachers that the Catholic schools most likely couldn't afford. Thanks to public schools, my son got the help he needed.

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12Education_Voter(838 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Catholic school staff will actually tell students with special needs that they are better off with the services offered in public schools.
However, they don't tell students that most probably all students would do better academically in public schools with the same well trained staff.

I do think there is a place for Church schools. They should serve people whose first concern is becoming a better Church member. (And who can provide their children with some extra tutoring in math.)

I also think the article should have mentioned that the voucher students scores statewide were low -- not just in our area.
Check for yourself here at the link below. When you get to the page, just scroll down to this year. The report starts with the whole group of voucher students in the state. Then goes community by community.
If you can't read it, you may need to install a PDF reader.

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