Few improvements on state report card, CMSD reaffirms commitment to Cleveland Plan

The Ohio Department of Education released its 2012-2013 school report cards today, and results show few improvements

James Crosby | 8/22/2013, 1:22 p.m.

Cleveland, OH – The Ohio Department of Education released its 2012-2013 school report cards today, and results show few improvements in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s performance over the previous year. The relatively flat performance of the District last year, and in previous years, says CEO Eric Gordon, reaffirms the importance of fully implementing the Plan for Transforming Cleveland’s Schools this year.

“The incremental gains we are seeing on last year’s report card are precisely what we have seen year after year, and this is not the change we want or the community demands for our schools,” said CEO Eric Gordon. “As we enter the 2013-2014 school year, CMSD’s report card is the same as before, but CMSD is not.”

This week the school year started, he said, with the Cleveland Plan fully underway and with students attending CMSD schools infused, for the first time in 16 years, with the community’s investment of levy dollars. This year’s school opening was a significant departure from last year, said the CEO, when the District had just closed another $40M dollar deficit, laid off 400 teachers, increased class sizes, cut programs and reduced the length of the school day.

“Seeing another ‘F’ on our report card is sobering at the start of a new school year, particularly for this staff and this community who worked so hard to bring about the changes we must see in our schools,” said Gordon. “But a walk through any one of our schools this year shows that CMSD is clearly not where we were one year ago.”

In granting a waiver to the appointment of an Academic Distress Commission last year, State Superintendent Richard Ross called the “Cleveland Plan” a game changer for the district, and many of the changes outlined in the Plan are clearly visible in schools throughout the district. In a message to CEO Eric Gordon the day before report cards were released, Ross said CMSD is not meeting Ohio’s increased standards, but now has the tools, resources and momentum it needs to do so.

“Ohio has raised the standards for what we expect from schools and clearly Cleveland is not meeting them right now,” Ross said. “But I am very hopeful that the aggressive and bold Cleveland Plan will significantly improve the long-term performance of the Cleveland school system. Everyone in Ohio has a stake in seeing that all boys and girls in Cleveland get the education they need to enjoy a bright future.”

Gordon said he is counting on the community to continue its investment in Cleveland’s children, and he is encouraged by the unprecedented involvement of citizens in school neighborhoods throughout the summer to be part of the change they want to see in their schools.

The new state report card serves as an important baseline for the District as it monitors targeted supports already in place in 13 CMSD Investment Schools, as it increases autonomy for staff in nine Transformation Schools, and as a new collective bargaining agreement with the Cleveland Teachers Union puts the needs of students at the forefront of decisions affecting staff, programs and length of the school day/year.

The Cleveland Plan, detailed on the CMSD website at ClevelandMetroSchools.org, includes changes in state law that removes barriers to school reform in Cleveland. It is funded in large part by a four-year, 15-mill levy passed by voters last November. The CEO said a levy “countdown clock” on the home page of the CMSD website is a daily reminder to him and to his staff of their commitment to increase student achievement by 2016. There are 1,173 days left.