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Vol. 9: Cleveland Metropolitan School District's Comment on ESSA

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Following the recent release of the Ohio State Plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the Cleveland Metropolitan School District provided the following testimony to the members of the Joint Education Oversight Committee and to the Superintendent of the Ohio Department of Education. Following is an edited excerpt from our testimony which is representative of our stance and comment for Ohio’s ESSA state plan:

"The Cleveland Metropolitan School District envisions an educational system that ensures every child the opportunity to attend a high-quality school and provides every neighborhood with a multitude of great schools for families to choose. We continue to implement the reforms made possible by the Cleveland Plan, Cleveland’s proposal for transforming schools – and the district is showing significant progress.

These gains include increasing our graduation rate by 17% in the past six years and yielding the highest graduation rate in CMSD history. We have also increased enrollment for the first time in decades. Recently we passed two operating levies as well as a facilities levy demonstrating that tax payers and families have demonstrated public trust and feel that CMSD, through the efforts of the Cleveland Plan are moving in the right direction.

CMSD is one of the only three districts in the nation to improve on all four reading and math tests per National Assessment of Educational Progress. Our High School students have shown a 10% decrease in college remediation rates and CMSD has decreased chronic truancy by 6.9% compared to that of the previous school year. We have expanded quality preschool by adding 1,200 high-quality-rated seats that exemplify 80% of these children are Kindergarten-ready.

Lastly and something we are most proud of is a report in the Cleveland Plain Dealer that CMSD is the 15th highest improving school district in the state of Ohio. These gains are not coincidental but due to our educators utilizing the tools that legislators and the Governor gave us in 2012.

We believe that ESSA represents a new opportunity to craft a more equitable education system, one which complements the investments we’ve made through the Cleveland Plan, and meets the needs of all Ohio students. Yet our review of the state plan reveals too many reiterations of No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). ESSA is an urban education bill and targeting the lowest performing 5% of schools will have a magnified impact not just on minority children but all children in poverty, rural or urban.

We fear the state’s current plan represents a roll back from the Cleveland Plan legislation and could significantly hamper future gains.

Accountability measures and the State Report Card must recognize proficiency and growth. Districts that have greatly improved in one area but not necessarily meeting the proficiency goal should be recognized.

Likewise, educator effectiveness and equity must reflect a teacher’s impact through student outcomes more significantly. We cannot accept the contrast between consistently high scores for teachers’ evaluation and stagnant student achievement.

It is for these reasons and others provided that compel us to request a later submission deadline. The September deadline can and should be used to develop workgroups to examine solutions to best support student success."

To access the entire final ESSA state plan comments please click here. We will continue to monitor progress of the ESSA implementation plan in Ohio. We look forward to continuing collaborating with ODE, Ohio legislators and all other stakeholders to support quality educational choices in every neighborhood.

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