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Report Card: Cleveland And Lorain Make Passing Grades

The Cleveland Metropolitan School District is no longer failing, according to the Ohio schools report card released Thursday. The district’s overall grade rose to a D this year, but news was mixed for three schools under state oversight. Lorain City Schools, like Cleveland, received a D overall. East Cleveland and Youngstown school districts both failed.

Cleveland's big jump came in gap closing: comparing the academic performance of demographic groups and non-native English speakers to their peers statewide. Cleveland scored a C because 71 percent of students compared favorably. That number was 65 percent last year.

Literacy scores among the district’s primary students improved as well, but not enough to raise CMSD’s grade from a D.

The district’s graduation rates also improved. Almost 82 percent of students got a diploma in five years, which gave the district a D on the report card. Roughly 78 percent of students graduated in four years – an improvement from 2018, but still an F rating, similar to last year.

In a statement, CMSD CEO Eric Gordon said although the district no longer belonged to the "F club," more improvement is necessary. 

“We said we would get a D, and we did. We also said that would not be good enough. It’s not,” said Gordon. “We still have a lot of work to do. Our community deserves better, and we’re going to get there.”

Gordon said the district will continue its focus on writing to improve literacy.

“If you can write well, you can read well,” he said.

He added, the district is also emphasizing students’ ability to solve difficult math problems. 

“We’re helping our kids struggle through more complex math problems so when they got a multi-step problem they didn’t just quit.”

Ohio Schools Superintendent Paolo DeMaria said the passing grade showed the success of the Cleveland Plan, which closed failing schools, expanded successful ones, and launched charter schools under district supervision.

“The Cleveland Plan was developed several years ago, and that has really formed a rallying cry for the community, and lots of buildings have gotten attention in terms of their leadership, their curriculum, their focus… and the culture within the building,” he said.

Lorain saw a huge improvement on gap closing. The district earned a B this year because 88 percent of students met expectations. That’s more than double last year’s 33 percent. 

“There’s an element of surprise whenever you see growth like that,” said Lorain City Schools CEO David Hardy, Jr. “However, folks work so hard — everything from how our district team works to support our school leaders, how our school leaders work with our teachers... then teachers’ level of commitment is so high.”  

Lorain also graduated 77 percent of students in four years, compared to 71 percent last year, but Hardy said the district must make longer strides to become healthy. 

“The big elephant in the room is that achievement is still at a place where we need to grow,” Hardy said. “Progress is great, but we have important areas where we need to strengthen our academic programs... and keeping rigor up to make sure all our schools are excellent.”

East Cleveland also saw a substantial increase in gap closing, but at 33 percent of students, the district still failed by state standards. East Cleveland also lost ground when it came to literacy for its youngest students. This year roughly one-fourth of at-risk K-3 readers improved, compared to 30 percent last year. The district slipped in student performance on state tests as well. 

East Cleveland CEO Henry Pettiegrew II did not respond to a request for comment. 


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