Pandemic Has Had Impact on Learning Statewide

Positive Trends Overall for APS on OH Report Card
Posted on 10/14/2021
The release of the State Report Card for Akron Public Schools and for all Ohio school districts today provides data for districts to use in assessing and planning with regard to student progress in an unprecedented year of disruption and recovery.

For the second year, state report cards do not assign letter grades, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students’ opportunities to learn, according to guidelines posted on the ODE report card website.

Using ODE guidelines for interpreting today’s report card data in conjunction with local data generated during periods when tests were taken in more stable and structured school environments, APS shows positive trends in several areas, said Superintendent Christine Fowler Mack in a briefing of report card results to the Akron Board of Education Thursday.

“Despite the shutdown, our four-year and five-year graduation rates continued to improve, and our Prepared for Success college and career readiness measure remained relatively consistent,” said Fowler Mack.

She continued, "Despite the significant disruption the pandemic brought to schools across Ohio, subgroups in the graduation-gap-closure measure for Akron’s most economically disadvantaged students continued to reach targets established by the state."

In other results, chronic absenteeism was on track to meet the APS goal of 16.6% before COVID stalled the district’s improvement. Although the chronic absenteeism rate for APS increased by 6.7%, Fowler Mack pointed out that APS still has the best rate for chronic absenteeism on this year’s report card across the Ohio 8 (state's eight largest districts).

Other positive indicators in the local data that ODE encourages districts to use in assessing annual progress show a smaller decline than predicted in elementary reading and math, based on local and national trends. APS showed only a three-point decline in the number of students reading “On or Above Grade Level” from 2019-21, bucking state and national predictions during the pandemic. The APS local measure for middle school reading showed improvement from Fall 2020 to Fall 2021, the superintendent said.

“This year’s report card not only sets a higher bar for all Ohio districts but provides a baseline for measuring district progress now and in the future,” said Fowler Mack.

With the disruption of spring testing in 2020 and the elimination of all testing last year, APS shifted its focus away from some of the usual state indicators and directed it on the most critical among them, considering the likely impact of the pandemic on K-3 literacy, graduation, chronic absenteeism and partial indicators on the state’s Prepared for Success measure, she said.

“That strategy appears to have paid off,” Fowler Mack said. “We will continue to use this and local data to inform current and future strategies as we recover unfinished learning and ensure every student in the district is on track for success.”

Intervention strategies at APS during this period of recovery include intensive scaffolding of curriculum, high-dosage tutoring, extensive credit recovery, extended summer learning, increased after-school programs and other supports.
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