September 15, 2016
Statement from Superintendent Hutchings on the State Report Card release
It is important to remember that one data point—a state assessment administered last year—does not define the quality of our schools, our students, our teachers or our administrators. In fact, the success of our students belies the scores contained on the State Report Card. Shaker graduates are accepted into a wide variety of colleges and universities in the country, including all of the Ivy League institutions. Our SAT and ACT scores are well above state and national averages, as are the marks our students achieve on Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams. Our teaching staff is highly rated by the state.
The fact is that the Ohio Department of Education has used three new assessments in three years. With that kind of change, it is inevitable that scores go down. Not only do we have a new assessment every year, but the state’s learning objectives and benchmarks have also changed. We are pleased that the learning objectives are more rigorous, but it takes time to provide the professional learning necessary to meet those standards. It takes time to establish a curriculum that is aligned to the state’s new learning objectives. It also takes time to readjust our pedagogical practices to help our students master these new learning objectives.
That said, the State Report Card grades are not a surprise to us. In February 2014, we established a Strategic Planning Committee to analyze our data and practices in Shaker. Through this work, we were able to identify areas of achievement, as well as areas of opportunity. This resulted in the Five –Year Strategic Plan which now guides our work. As part of that plan, we now have District metrics in place to measure our own progress in attaining our six goals. We are establishing a curriculum and are working with our teachers so that everyone knows what a Shaker curriculum is. By becoming an IB district, we embraced a philosophy that values a holistic approach for our students and helps develop their critical- and analytical-thinking skills. Those are exactly the skills the state will be emphasizing going forward. Instead of focusing on the State Report Card, it is our hope that our stakeholders instead focus on what our District is doing to address the challenges our students face, as well as celebrate the significant accomplishments we have achieved.
Progress doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, energy and intentional efforts to narrow the achievement gap. We are hard at work on the effort, but we are aware we still have much work to do. At the end of the day, the value of a Shaker education is best measured by a comment a student makes about a great teacher or class they experienced, from an international trip they went on to broaden their horizons, or by mastering a musical instrument that gives them, and others, great pleasure. A Shaker education provides students an educational environment that prepares them for the real world—college, career and life. Our students are what matter most, and they should not be reduced to a test score.
Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr.
Superintendent of Schools