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Ohio report cards show improvements in English and math; 26% of students chronically absent

Megan Henry, Ohio Capital Journal,

Ohio students’ proficiency in English Language Arts and math went up, but are lower than pre-pandemic levels, according to the new state report cards that the Ohio Department of Education released last week.

For ELA, 60.9 percent of students scored proficient for the 2022-23 school year — up from 59.5 percent in 2021-22. But 64.6 percent of students were proficient in 2018-19.

When it came to math, 53 percent of students were proficient for 2022-23 — an increase from 50.5 percent in 2021-22. 61 percent of students were proficient in 2018-19.

“We are not back to where we were before the pandemic and before the pandemic we weren’t where we needed to be,” ODE Interim Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Woolard said. “We’re seeing good news on improvement, but clearly there is still a lot of work to do. And there is urgency.”

While students are making progress in English, proficiency in math is lagging behind.

“Most parents just don’t have the knowledge to be able to teach their kids math, especially when they get to a certain age and so it’s not surprising,” said Ohio Education Association President Scott DiMauro. “That’s going to take a little bit longer to see the disruption caused by the pandemic kind of work itself out.”

Chronic absenteeism

About one in four, 26.8 percent, Ohio students and nearly half, 45 percent, of Black students were chronically absent last school year, according to the report cards.

Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing 10 percent or more of school hours for any reason.

“It’s really hard for students to learn if they’re not in school,” DiMauro said.

Chronic absenteeism actually declined, dropping from 30.2 percent during the 2021-22 school year.

“Attendance remains a concern,” Woolard said. “It is a priority to reduce chronic absenteeism.”

School districts with the highest percentage of chronic absenteeism.

• Youngstown City School District (Mahoning County) —  59.3 percent

• Lorain City School District (Lorain County) — 59.0 percent

• East Cleveland City School (Cuyahoga County) — 58 percent

• Columbus City Schools (Franklin County) — 57.8 percent

• Lockland Local Schools (Hamilton County)— 57.5 percent

• Cleveland Metropolitan School District (Cuyahoga County) — 56.1 percent.

Report card data doesn’t explain why students are missing school.

Star system

ODE uses a star system and gives 1 to 5 star ratings in half-star increments. The state stopped using an A-F letter grade system last year.

The education department calculates the rating based on five categories: achievement, progress, early literacy, gap closing and graduation.

• 1 district (Jefferson Township Local in Montgomery County) received 1.5 stars

• 14 districts received 2 stars

• 46 received 2.5 stars

• 86 received 3 stars

• 136 districts received 3.5 stars

• 152 districts received 4 stars

• 97 districts received 4.5 stars

• 75 districts received 5 stars.

Nearly 90 percent of school districts earned overall ratings of three stars or more — meaning they met state standards.

For the early literacy category — 39 districts earned 1 star, 114  districts earned 2 stars, 265 districts earned 3 stars, 132 districts earned 4 stars and 55 districts earned 5 stars.

Homeless students

These school districts had the highest percentage of homeless students:

• Mansfield City Schools (Richland County) — 9.5 percent

• Nordonia Hills City Schools (Summit County) — 9.2 percent

• Chillicothe City Schools (Ross County) — 9.0 percent

• Mt. Healthy City Schools (Hamilton County) — 8.5 percent

• Hillsboro City Schools (Highland County) — 8.2 percent

• Toledo Public Schools (Lucas County) — 7.7 percent

The McKinney–Vento Homeless Assistance Act, passed in 1987, is a federal law that supports the enrollment and education of homeless students by ensuring homeless youth have access to a public education.

Other data points

The statewide four-year graduation rate was 87.3 percent, up slightly from last year’s 87 percent.

For the Third Grade Reading Guarantee, 98.63 percent of Ohio students met the promotion threshold.

Megan Henry is a reporter for the Ohio Capital Journal and has spent the past five years reporting in Ohio on various topics including education, healthcare, business and crime. She previously worked at The Columbus Dispatch, part of the USA Today Network. Follow OCJ Reporter Megan Henry on Twitter.