Hathorn predicts improvements in Youngstown schools
By Denise Dick
Although the release of the state report cards is weeks away, city schools Superintendent Connie Hathorn expects it to show improvement.
Hathorn in a meeting Wednesday with The Vindicator editorial board and a reporter said he doesn’t know the district’s designation on the 2011-12 state report card, but he predicts improved reading and math scores for the elementary students. Attendance also will hold steady.
This year’s report card release, usually the last week of August, has been delayed because of an attendance audit by Ohio Auditor Dave Yost’s office.
The audit was precipitated by discoveries in Columbus and other school districts of data scrubbing to improve report card scores.
Since January 2010, the city school district has been under the oversight of a state-appointed Academic Distress Commission because of failure to meet adequate yearly progress for consecutive years.
Despite concerns among some community members that a state takeover of the district is imminent, Hathorn says it’s not.
“I’m not going to let that happen,” he said. “I really believe that.”
The superintendent says he believes in the things that have been implemented in the district and that scores will continue to improve.
The school district, however, may see a drop in the graduation rate “because of the way it’s calculated,” Hathorn said.
This marks the first year of a change in graduation rate, evaluating the rate based on those who graduate in four years or less. Previously the rate was based only on the number of 12th-graders who graduated.
One of the things that has been implemented is professional development for teachers and principals.
“We’ve trained people to be good principals,” he said, adding that the people in place are instructional leaders, not just building managers.
When he started in the district in October 2010, they hadn’t been trained.
“We had good people who were willing to learn,” Hathorn said.
They now know how to identify good instruction when they to into a classroom, he said.
To improve student achievement, the school system and the community has to have high expectations for students, the superintendent said.
“You have to believe that those kids can learn and teach them that way,” Hathorn said.