City schools superintendent points to improvement
By Denise Dick
City schools Superintendent Connie Hathorn says he’s not making excuses for the district’s performance on the latest state report card and that he’s not happy with it, but he says there has been improvement.
The report cards were released last month using a new grading system that gives schools and districts marks in nine categories using A through F. Youngstown got five F’s, two D’s and two C’s.
“We rewrote the curriculum,” Doug Hiscox, deputy superintendent for academic affairs, said in a Wednesday meeting with The Vindicator editorial board and a reporter. “We changed the instructional framework. We changed the way we teach in the classroom. It’s like changing the tires while the car is still moving.”
Hathorn said whenever there’s change, a flat line or a backslide is expected. “But I’m not making excuses,” he said.
The district did lose ground in some areas, including third-grade reading and math, fifth-grade reading and science — and there was no change from last year to this year in 11th-grade writing.
Gains were made, for example, in fifth-grade math, eighth-grade reading, and fourth-grade reading and math.
“We have the one plan now, and this will be the first full school year of full implementation,” he said, referring to the district’s academic-recovery plan.
He also said he plans no more changes. Twice since he assumed the district helm in 2011, Hathorn has changed building and grade alignments of school buildings and implemented new programs.
“I hope to see big growth this year,” Hathorn said.
He and Hiscox consider “big growth” a 15 percent to 20 percent increase in all areas.
Both administrators point to the district’s performance-index score, which measures the achievement of every student, as evidence of improvement. That score has risen each year since the 2010 report cards. The most recent report card scored the district a D in performance index.
“Performance index is where we think we can make the greatest impact,” Hiscox said.