APS awaits local report cards delayed by state
The annual local school district “report cards” for 2011-12 were supposed to have been released to Ohio schools Aug. 29. But districts are still waiting, following the State Board of Education’s August vote to delay the release of the rankings pending the outcome of a statewide investigation into whether some districts manipulated attendance data to improve their results.
Akron Public Schools (APS) Assistant Superintendent Ellen McWilliams presented a preliminary report on what information is known from test results so far at the APS Board of Education’s Sept. 10 meeting.
Based on the district’s results on the state indicators and performance index, district officials anticipate an overall district Continuous Improvement ranking, McWilliams said. The district’s performance index has risen three points in the past three years to 85.9; the goal is 90, she said.
Results from the Ohio Achievement Assessments show marked improvement over the previous year in reading in third through seventh grades but declines in grades eight, 10 and 11, she said. In math, most grade levels improved last year with the exception of fourth and seventh.
Science and social studies test scores also made significant gains over the previous year, McWilliams said, adding that she will report back when they receive the complete results from the state.
Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic attended the school board meeting and endorsed the APS’ 7.9-mill operating levy that will be on the Nov. 6 General Election ballot.
“This is America. It’s not Afghanistan, it’s not Iraq, where the wealthy people educate their kids and not the rest,” he said. “It’s not that way in America.”
He pointed out the system of free, publicly funded schools for all children — the Akron Plan — began here more than 150 years ago and was adopted by the state of Ohio.
“The most important thing we can do is educate our young people,” Plusquellic said.
He also made a plug for an issue originating from the Akron City Council and mayor that also will be on the Nov. 6 ballot.
It would change the charter of the city of Akron to hold elections for Council members every four years instead of two, so all members would run for office at the same time and serve four-year terms, along with the mayor.
The issue also would limit raises for the mayor and Council members to the average amount received that year in the private sector. [See related story on Page 1.]
The school board then voted to support the city charter amendment.
In other business, the board accepted the donation of 22 reconditioned musical instruments. WAPS-FM 91.3, a public radio station licensed to the APS but operated independently and funded by grants and community support, through its program “Music Alive” solicits musical instruments for APS students who would like to learn to play but cannot afford an instrument.
The 22 instruments donated recently bring the total donated through the program to 215, according to Superintendent David James.
The board also thanked one particular donor, Barry Manilow. The singer performed in the area last summer and donated a new Yamaha stage-level electric keyboard, valued at $2,500, to the APS Music Department through “Music Alive.”
Board President Jason Haas called WAPS “a tremendous asset” to the APS.
Haas also announced the new Buchtel/Perkins Community Learning Center, which just opened, will hold an open house/dedication Sept. 25 at 6 p.m. and invited the public to attend. The school is located at 1040 Copley Road. The middle-school section, while connected to the high school part, has its own entrance on Glendora Avenue.
The board’s next regular meeting is set for Sept. 24 at 5:30 p.m. at the Sylvester Small Administration Building, 70 N. Broadway in Downtown Akron.
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