The State Board of Education is urging lawmakers to eliminate all letter grades from school and district report cards issued by the Ohio Department of Education.

At its monthly meeting in Columbus on Nov. 15, the board unanimously approved a resolution recommending a host of changes to the annual report cards.

The sponsor of the resolution, board member Lisa Woods of Medina, said she hopes the Ohio General Assembly would act on the request before adjourning in mid-December.

Several board members said "A to F" grades tend to label schools as good or failing, and none should be judged by a letter grade.

The goal, they said, is for report cards to provide fair and easily understood portrayals of school and district performances.

"Letter grades should be eliminated for all measures or re-scaled as appropriate to, where possible, strive to avoid correlation to poverty and racial demographics. In no event should measures be combined in such a manner as to produce an obvious prejudicial effect for districts with poverty and racial diversity," the resolution said.

The board recommended that some measures be eliminated and others adjusted. It did not specify what system should replace letter grades.

"The overall emphasis of the report card should be on measuring student growth, while making standardized-test achievement data available without assigning it necessarily to districts as a success or failure," the resolution said.

The report cards have been a frequent target of criticism by teachers, school administrators and others who argue that they are confusing and fail to accurately reflect student achievement.

Several legislative proposals have been introduced, including one by Rep. Mike Duffey (R-Worthington), but it's unclear whether the legislature will enact any of them during its lame-duck session.

In report cards for the 2017-18 school year issued by the ODE in September, Columbus City Schools and several charter schools in Franklin County were among the publicly funded schools in the state to receive an overall letter grade of F.

The grades contained the first overall scores issued since the 2011-12 school year, combining several measures into one letter grade.

Columbus was one of 14 districts, out of the state's 608, to get an overall F.

Sixteen of the 59 charter schools in Franklin County received an F.

One charter school in the county, Kids Care Elementary, received an A, as did three central Ohio districts: Bexley, Granville and New Albany.

ccandisky@dispatch.com

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