Hilliard

Report card encouraging, but Hilliard has work to do

To the Editor:

The Board of Education currently is soliciting input from our community to aid in the search for a new superintendent.

Board President Lisa Whiting said, "This search reflects the value that we have for transparency and openness with our community," according to the district website. So what kind of leadership are we looking for? How well is education being delivered to our students?

This year, Hilliard once again is expected to earn an "Excellent with Distinction" rating on the state report card. In response, Superintendent Dale McVey said: "This district truly is the best of the best -- as the rating Excellent with Distinction signifies."

That sounds great, but consider the following:

In 2011, 60 percent of all Ohio school districts (including all central Ohio suburban districts) were rated "Excellent or Excellent with Distinction" -- trophies for almost everyone.

Hilliard ranks 124th in the state in proficiency performance on the Ohio Achievement Assessments and Ohio Graduation Tests, according to the Ohio Department of Education. Six area districts rank higher, from 40th to 73rd.

Only 40 percent of our students who took the ACT scored well enough to be considered "college ready" in all four subject areas, according to the ODE and Steve Estepp, Hilliard's executive director of K-12 curriculum and instruction. Our district's average ACT and SAT scores rank locally eighth and 10th behind other districts.

More than 30 percent of our district graduates required remediation for math or English upon arrival to Ohio colleges, according to an annual report from the Ohio Board of Regents.

Our latest student proficiency rate, according to Estepp, for eighth grade ACT-EXPLORE "college-path" testing was: English -- 78 percent, Math -- 62 percent, Reading -- 58 percent, Science -- 27 percent. Proficiency for 10th grade ACT-PLAN "college-path" testing was: English -- 83 percent, Math -- 54 percent, Reading -- 60 percent, Science -- 38 percent.

Stated duties of our school board include "to evaluate the effectiveness with which the district is achieving its educational purposes" and "to inform the public about the progress and needs of the district." Unfortunately, the board does neither.

This lack of and "scrutiny and transparency" benefits neither the taxpayers who fund our schools, parents who trust our schools or students who learn in our schools.

Steve Bennett
Hilliard

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