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Report Shows Steadily Climbing Graduation Rates, Lower Test Scores in Cleveland Public Schools

Stock photo of open books on table.
The Cleveland Plan aimed to close or replace failing schools and give schools more autonomy.

The organization created to assess Cleveland’s unique public school system has issued its third report and found mixed results. The public/private group called the Transformation Alliance finds progress in the Cleveland Plan that allows the mayor to oversee the city schools in cooperation with 17 charter schools.

The report finds there are more high quality preschools, and at the other end, more students are graduating high school.  A dismal 56% graduation rate in 2012 has gone up each year to 69%.  

Cleveland student scores dropped in standardized tests last year, but students statewide also did worse with the new state tests. Clevelanders scored below state average on the ACT college entrance exam, but they did show improvement as even more kids took the test. 

On the plus side, Alliance director Piet van Lier says the high school graduation rate has gone up for the fifth year in a row, ACT college entrance exam scores have improved, and fewer of those students need any remediation help in college.

“Those are pretty significant changes.  And again if you look at what’s happening with the ACT, and the graduation rate, I think it starts to paint a picture that students are leaving high school and they’re better prepared," Van Lier said.

Van Lier says the Alliance is still pushing for better teachers and administrators and more high quality preschools to help improve student performance in Cleveland.

“To some degree we see that as a vote of confidence right?  Along with the vote for the levy renewal in the fall,  another vote of confidence to say things are working, there’s some public confidence, people are returning to the schools," he said.

While some education experts say high poverty districts like Cleveland can’t be expected to perform at the state average, Van Lier says the Alliance will still use that as its goal.