The grades are in. The Ohio Department of Education delivered report cards to the 608 public school districts statewide late last week, including those in the Chagrin Valley, Solon and Geauga County.

In an effort to help everyone understand the results, Ohio for the second year in a row issued overall marks that combine several measures into a single letter grade. The all too familiar A through F grades are based on a combination of sub-categories including Achievement (subject test results), Gap Closing (is each child succeeding), K-3 Literacy (are children learning to read), Progress (are children learning enough in a year), Graduation Rate and Success (how well are students prepared for the future).

Solon City School District once again was named the No. 1 district in Ohio for the fifth consecutive year. Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Deborah Siegel attributed Solon’s steady and consistent success to the district’s mission of “every student, every day.”

Chagrin Falls Exempted Village School District took a big jump in the rankings from 12th in the state last year to third this year. Rocky River was No. 2.

Like other school leaders, Chagrin Superintendent Robert Hunt pointed to the hard work of staff and students.

Orange City School District went up from a B last year to an overall A this year, while Kenston Local School District maintained its A rating. Chardon held on to its B average while West Geauga dropped from an A to a B this year. Newbury again earned a C while Berkshire dropped from a C to a D. Berkshire Superintendent John Stoddard attributed the drop to growing pains after an overhaul of the district’s teaching methods.

All these numbers and letters are based on results of tests that students took this last spring in reading, math and other subjects on the primary levels as well as algebra, history and biology and more on the high school level.

So why all the tests and number crunching? The goal is to make sure children are learning what they are supposed to learn at the various grade levels. In addition to the overall district grade, the state gives grades to individual school buildings – elementary, intermediate, middle and high schools – within each district. And there are test results of each subject on each grade level. There are no secrets. All this information is available to parents, grandparents and taxpayers interested or concerned about how the kids are doing in school.

More than one superintendent, including Chagrin’s Mr. Hunt and Chardon’s Michael Hanlon, commented that the state report cards are only one measure of how schools are preparing students for the future. We agree.

There’s more to a student than test scores. These tests don’t measure how well a student plays the violin or takes on a dramatic role on stage, or shoots a basketball, or creates a wood sculpture. The tests don’t show if a child is a creative thinker, a critical thinker, or is a kind and generous person.

But children do need a strong baseline of knowledge when they graduate and move on. And though these assessment tests are not perfect, they do prepare students for the rigors of real-life tests they are sure to face in the working world.

Whether you are a parent or an empty nester, we encourage everyone to look at the test results and see how the public school districts are doing. If nothing else, the information reveals the intricacies of educating every child today.

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