The value-added calculations by the Ohio Department of Education no longer measure whether individual students achieve a year's worth of academic growth, according to Jennifer Wene, Worthington chief academic officer.

The value-added calculations by the Ohio Department of Education no longer measure whether individual students achieve a year's worth of academic growth, according to Jennifer Wene, Worthington chief academic officer.

Worthington City Schools went from all A's in student progress on last year's state report card to all F's on this year's report card, released last month.

Wene said some of the state's changes in report card calculations resulted in much lower grades this year on the state report card, which may be viewed at reportcard.education.ohio.gov.

"People think value-added measures student growth, but that is not entirely true," she said. "What it does is compare your students' performance level as a district from one year to the next. So it translates your level of performance into a normal curve equivalent on a scale of 1-99.

"It is a lot like a cross-country race, where everyone is single file," she said. "So in getting from point A to B, you get a time, so you place second or fifth, etc. You get a placement in that race. So your grade or score each year actually measures whether you maintained or lost your position in the pack."

In the past, the state measured an accumulation of three years of academic growth for districts.

"For a three-year average, you would not go from an A to an F in a given year, because it is accumulative," Wene said. "The state went to a two-year model. We now have all F's in student progress on the state report card and that could be why."

Superintendent Trent Bowers called it "a zero-sum game."

"We could get a year's worth of growth with every one of our kids and still receive a C or D in student progress, because the measurement compares the growth of our students with surrounding districts' students," he said.

On the ODE website, education.ohio.gov, the value-added measurement is described as:

"A value-added model measures how much progress a group of students made relative to the expectation of progress. A group could be all the students in a particular district, school or classroom, in a specific subject, grade and year. The expectation of progress is based on how the individual students within the group performed, on average, compared to other students just like them across the state."

It continues, "A value-added model then compares a group's actual progress to the expectation of progress and uses statistical precision to see if there is evidence that that group made more than, less than, or about the same progress as expected."

It also states that students who make a year's worth of progress would earn a C grade. A group of students would have to make more than a year's worth of progress to earn an A grade.

Board President Marc Schare said, "Then let's be crystal clear about this; under Ohio's system, our students could be growing in leaps and bounds, but still not reach a year's worth of growth, because the only way every district is deemed successful is if they maintain their ranking among the other districts."

Bowers called the state's way of calculating "a broken system."

"The way value-added is calculated now, consistency is most important," he said. "They are putting all the districts in one pot, so that one district's gain is another district's loss, which is a broken system."

That system did not allow for about 200 Worthington students to be counted in value-added calculations, because they were eighth-grade students accelerated into ninth grade, Wene said.

"In the past, the students accelerated into ninth grade were still taking the eighth-grade OAA test, so the scores for those ninth-graders were still counted in the value-added," she said. "Now, although it is a good thing that they are taking the ninth-grade tests associated with the content they are learning, they are not counted, because ninth grade and above tests are now not included.

"So the value-added measure does not represent all of the tests and all of the students," she said.

Wene said it is difficult for school districts to understand ODE's calculations because the data the calculations are based on will not be available to the districts until mid-April.

She said the district's internal measures, such as MAP tests, administered three times each school year, show Worthington students are growing.

"MAP actually measures growth," she said. "We saw significant growth from fall to winter in the buildings, so we feel confident that students in Worthington are growing at or above levels we've seen in the past."

@PamelaThisWeek