Clermont Northeastern School’s superintendent Ralph Shell was left nonplussed last week after the district received its annual report card from the Ohio Department of Education.
“My first impression was disappointment,” said Shell. “An effective rating from the state is adequate, but for educators, it is just not good enough.”
Clermont Northeastern School district met 20 of the 25 performance standards mandated by the state to achieve its “effective” rating.
“In the last two years, the high school has achieved all of the academic benchmarks on the academic side,” he said. “The only one that they missed this year was the graduation rate, so we received an effective score at the high school level. The elementary school received all of the needed points with their scores, but the middle school did not earn as many points. The 5th and 6th grade reading and math test scores were low and that is what cost us the excellent rating.”
According to the the state’s report card, only 68.9 percent of 5th grade students scored proficient on the reading test and only 48 percent scored proficient on the math test. In addition, only 61.4 percent of 6th graders scored proficient on the math achievement test.
“Obviously, we will be concentrating on these areas,” remarked Shell. “The strategy is clear. We will be hiring more effective teachers.”
Shell said he wants to make clear that the socioeconomic status of a community is not an indicator of academic success.
“When I came to this school district, one of the first things that I looked at was the Ohio Department of Taxation statistics. I look to see what the income of the community is, what type of people live in the community, and where they are ranked in average household income.
“CNE has always had this image of being very white, very poor, and very Appalachian. This is simply not true. We are in the upper 25 percent in the state in regards to household income. So people can no longer say or use the excuse that we are an underprivileged community to explain away low test scores anymore. Based upon that alone, our state test scores are not indicative of where they should be.”
In regard to improving upon the CNE graduation rate, plans and strategies are already in place this year.
“We want every student to graduate,” said Shell. “The rate of graduation is based upon the number of students that come in as freshmen and then how many of them graduate. This year, we are going to be working very closely with the high school guidance and administration departments. We will be meeting monthly to track and monitor every student’s attendance and academic performance. We will determine who is at risk of failing or dropping out and then determine ways to intervene and assure that we keep them in school.”
Shell is optimistic about improving on this year’s effective rating but is very cautious about predicting what next year may bring.
“Each class is like our own children. Each one is different. They each have different interests, different personalities, and different abilities. For those reasons, it is difficult to predict how we will do next year. Having said that, let me assure everyone in the community that we we will try and do everything that we possibly can to achieve an excellent rating next year. I am very proud of the improvement of the entire district. I see on a daily basis that parents, teachers, students, and other concerned community members will no longer accept mediocrity. We are very close to attaining excellence, I know that we can do it.”