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CH-UH District Ranks in Bottom 5 Percent in the State Based on Standardized Tests

A "preview" of Ohio's new rankings system places Cleveland Heights-University Heights among the lowest of traditional public schools

The Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District is ranked in the bottom 5 percent of public schools in the state based on standardized test scores.

Out of 611 traditional schools ordered in what’s called the performance index, CH-UH landed in 583rd place, according to preliminary information released by the Ohio Department of Education.

These preliminary rankings measured student performance on all tested subjects in grades three to eight on Ohio’s Achievement Assessments and on the 10th grade Ohio Graduation Test, according to the ODE.

Students at all levels — advanced, accelerated, proficient, basic and limited — are included.

CH-UH Superintendent Douglas Heuer said though the performance index measure has actually improved over the past two years, there are reasons it does not portray the district accurately.

“The Performance Index is calculated from standardized tests administered annually to approximately 60 percent of the district’s students in a limited number of subject areas," Heuer said in an email. "Also, it utilizes a testing instrument which a large body of research indicates is more difficult for minority and economically disadvantaged students to accurately reflect their true level of mastery. Given the demographics of the CH-UH student population, it would be problematic to conclude the PI score or ranking accurately reflects the true quality of education afforded to students in the CH-UH schools. The same comments would apply to any district in Ohio with a similar, disproportionate number of at-risk students."

The report also included how much districts spent on each student. CH-UH Schools spent $18,461 per student in 2011, which is the sixth-highest among traditional school districts in the state.

Nearby districts that ranked below CH-UH include East Cleveland, Cleveland and Euclid. Shaker Heights placed 341st and South Euclid-Lyndhurst landed in the 539th spot. Districts that were among the top 5 percent include Rocky River City Schools, which ranked the highest in Cuyahoga County at third in the state and Solon was fourth. Beachwood City Schools ranked 29th.

Starting in 2012, official rankings will be released every year in accordance with the most recent state budget as an additional way for taxpayers and government to evaluate district performance.

The system that will be used beginning next year is based on measures including the performance index, student performance growth, spending per student and opportunities provided to gifted students. 

"Performance index is actually one component of the ," said Dennis Evans, Ohio Department of Education public information officer. "There are other measures on the report card as well."

The performance index scores are different than those on the last report cards because this report used updated state testing data.

Evans stressed that the rankings released so far are preliminary. The final ranking released next year will also incorporate data on the amount of money devoted to classroom instruction and opportunities provided to gifted students.

"Going forward, the ranking will be based on other criteria as well. What we released last week is actually a preview," he said.

Here's how Cleveland Heights-University Heights City Schools compared to other districts nearby.

 School District

District Designation

Performance Index Rank

Expenditures Per Student

CHUH

Continuous Improvement

583

$18,461

Shaker Heights

Effective

341

$16,756

Beachwood

Excellent

29

$19,645

Mayfield

Excellent with Distinction

159

$14,572

South Euclid/Lyndhurst

Continuous Improvement

539

$14,308

Solon

Excellent

4

$13,387

East Cleveland

Academic Watch

609

$16,842

Garry Kanter December 07, 2011 at 02:28 AM
@SBM - Well,that's kinda the issue, isn't it? Do you want classroom time spent preparing kids for the tests, or should classroom time be spent teaching kids their lessons?
Colleen Ialacci January 10, 2012 at 06:29 PM
I'm a Heights resident and planning to send my daughter to kindergarten at Fairfax next fall. My husband teaches at Hawken where we would qualify for some discount in the tuition, but we want our daughter to go to our local school which is just a block away. We love it here in Cleveland Heights and plan to be very involved in her public school education. Are we foolish to send her to Fairfax? Some friends seem to think so. Some say we should at least apply for her to go to Roxboro which is ranked so much higher. I want to somehow make it work right here in our own neighborhood. What can be done to improve our community's school system? There must be a way.
Staci Baker-Marshall January 11, 2012 at 04:08 AM
Crunch the numbers and count the costs! If you can afford it without changing your lifestyle consider Hawken. I moved back to Cleveland Heights thinking I was going to give my kids the same great education, community, and cultural experiences I had growing up and boy I was wrong! The schools have changed the curriculum so much it's like sending your kids to a daycare that's free. The gifted programs are still excellent, though not on par with surrounding districts. For instance, on the middle school level while other schools offer honors science and social studies along with language arts and math, CHUH does not. We're way behind folks! Teachers that live and work in Cleveland Heights are sending their kids out of the district. What does that tell you? We're exploring other options as we speak because, sad to say, CHUH schools just aren't making the cut! I wish they were because who wants to send their kids to a school far away from home. Good luck in making your decision!
John Hubbard January 11, 2012 at 05:06 PM
We opted to send our daughters to Fairfax instead of Laurel (where I worked when they entered school) for a number of reasons, but primarily because our values are better reflected by the public schools and the Cleveland Heights community. We've been generally pleased with the decision and they're now in grades 4 and 8. I think it's essential to become engaged with school and district personnel and to demand sensible answers to any questions you may have. I know that the rankings and test scores do not reflect the teaching and learning my children have experienced. Take a look at the efforts of Reaching Heights and Go Public (both at reachingheights.org) and contact the PTA folks for information about what some people are doing to support and improve the schools.
SPH January 23, 2012 at 06:57 PM
We thought about Hawken as I was in the CHUH system through 6th grade and then was able to go to Hawken for through middle and high school. It just didn't work out for us. Both our children attend(ed) Fairfax and we love it. The teachers and current principal are great. My greatest concern is with the district. It is the fact that they just don't get it these days. They think they are still the community district of the past and they aren't. And on top of it they then try to force Infinite Campus, Smart Boards or any other tech idea to say that we are cutting edge but it isn't helping the kids that get lost through the cracks. Our district is diverse and not in the best ways. You have the Haves and the have nots and every possible socio-economic status in between. What happens is that you have people who think that their views reflect the district as a whole and just don't get that they aren't the majority and won't accept any other point of view. They are uber involved to a point of being a disruption to those trying to do the best for the schools and the district as a whole. Then on top of it the district hires consultants that know nothing of our schools or our community to make suggestions on what we should be doing. I am ranting a little here but the district has potential, it is just that it is not being tapped properly.

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