I am writing as your superintendent, but also as a father of three children in the Plain Local School District. Recently the Ohio Department of Education released the 2016 state report card for the district. I will summarize my thoughts over the next few paragraphs so you know my position as superintendent.
First, I believe that rigorous curriculum and coursework is needed for all students to achieve after high school. It is our responsibility to provide students offerings and opportunities that will expose them to a variety of opportunities later in life. This responsibility comes in many forms such as STEM learning, arts exposure, career and technical education, advanced placement classes, college courses and other opportunities that are available in the Plain Local School District. In addition, I have no problem with accountability and transparency to the state of Ohio, or the Plain Local community.
The problem is the current rating system with this recent release. Our students are being measured on three distinctly different tests over the past two years. Our students have experienced more mandated state testing than any other group of students in the history of the school district. Our grade this year is based on a series of tests that were not all given the same year. I am not confident any rating system could accurately compare one year to another. In addition, we are given additional component grades in various areas. The explanation of each grade is complicated and confusing, and the details behind each grade are very specific.
These results represent only a snapshot in time regarding student achievement. Students are not robots. They learn differently and at different rates. Students grow and develop in their own time. I believe each child should be given the opportunity to grow and experience all the opportunities that are available in the Plain Local School District. I believe that we should develop the whole child, not only the one or two weeks they are tested through the state of Ohio. This philosophy is not measured or valued in the state of Ohio, and is not measured on any current test.
As you can see, my opinion is strong regarding the current state of education in Ohio. I believe our focus should be on the care and well- being of our children. They are the future, and my concern is the environment they are currently exposed to in education. Stress and state testing is not an education. Exploring and growing as an individual should be the focus. Students should be encouraged to participate in as many activities as possible and develop life-long relationships with peers and adults. They should be given the opportunity to develop as problem solvers and critical thinkers because that is what is needed in our society. Innovators and creators are what are needed more in this world, not better test takers!
Our state report card is published, and we will always work to get better. The staff in Plain Local is amazing, and I have first-hand knowledge with what my three children have experienced in the school district. I trust this staff with my most treasured possession. If you have questions about your children’s progress or achievement, I encourage you to discuss that with your child’s teachers or building principal. I would also welcome the opportunity to talk to any of you about these results and more personally share my concerns.
My goal each day is to be better than yesterday, and better tomorrow than today. This drive and passion is seen in the entire staff in Plain Local. I am proud to be your Superintendent knowing we do the best for the future of the children of my community, and I am a proud Eagle!