Over the past couple of weeks we have delved into the minds of John Kasich and his education experts to try to understand their rationale behind the school ranking criteria they adopted into law in House Bill 153 (budget bill).  We found nothing.  However, the absence of any informed or coherent education-related legislation coming from our GOP-owned General Assembly should not be surprising to any Ohioan after this volatile year.

Still, we have finalized our version of the state rankings as we have discussed described them in our previous posts:

  1. Kasich’s school rankings exemplify ignorance about K-12 education
  2. Kasich’s unfeasible school ranking system (Part 2)
  3. Kasich’s unworkable school ranking system (Part 3)
  4. Kasich’s asinine economic opinions included in Ohio’s school ranking system (Part 4)
  5. Kasich’s gift of ineptitude shines in school rankings (Part 5)

Below, we’ll list each of the specific ranking criteria followed by an explanation of how we factored that in to our interpretation of the rankings.  Overall, we included 4 of the 6 criteria and assigned a rank order value and to each, with a lower score being desirable.  We summed the ranking values, weighting 50% for test scores and 50% for the expenditures.  We then combined these values to obtain a final score for each district, then ranked those values low to high to determine the final district ranking.  In the state’s recent performance ranking values, they excluded some districts that did not have scores.  We have copied their practice for some districts, but tried to include as many as possible by simply adjusting the weighted values.  Ultimately, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) will have complete authority to decide the fate of districts through the implementation of these measures.

The six criteria that were adopted in the final bill as follows [bold added for emphasis]:

1. Performance index score for each school district, community school, and STEM school and for each separate building of a district, community school, or STEM school. For districts, schools, or buildings to which the performance index score does not apply, the superintendent of public instruction shall develop another measure of student academic performance and use that measure to include those buildings in the ranking so that all districts, schools, and buildings may be reliably compared to each other.

The rankings for performance index scores and rankings were pulled directly from the rankings released by ODE.  In our ranking system, we weighted this ranking value as 20% of the final score, using the value-added criterion (#2) as the additional 30%.  For districts without value-added data this ranking value served as 50% of the final score.

2. Student performance growth from year to year, using the value-added progress dimension, if applicable, and other measures of student performance growth designated by the superintendent of public instruction for subjects and grades not covered by the value-added progress dimension;

With value-added apparently providing a less-biased measure of evaluating the progress of students via standardized testing, we assigned a district’s rank score on this measure a value of 30% of the final score.  By weighting this higher than the performance index scores that only look at student achievement test results at one time, we are trying to de-emphasize the effect of any student’s home environment and trying to highlight the direct effect of the school.  Many school districts (primarily charter schools) do not teach at the grade levels that have value-added data.  These schools are highlighted in pink on the ranking list and their performance index rank was used for 50% of their final score.

3. Performance measures required for career-technical education under 20 U.S.C. 2323, if applicable. If a school district is a “VEPD” or “lead district” as those terms are defined in section 3317.023 of the Revised Code, the district’s ranking shall be based on the performance of career-technical students from that district and all other districts served by that district, and such fact, including the identity of the other districts served by that district, shall be noted on the report required by division (B) of this section.

As we explained when we dissected this measure earlier, it is unable to be implemented given the current data sets that exist in Ohio.  IF usable data actually existed we would still only have measures for, at most, 56% of the districts.  Accurate reporting measures must first be created that will permit us to fairly weight this factor as it relates to ALL school districts.  We have omitted this measure from our final rankings.

4. Current operating expenditures per pupil;

Using ODE’s data, we applied what we understand to be Kasich’s consistent expression of his belief that spending more money to fund Ohio’s school children is not something he supports.  Combining his massive budget cuts, his anti-levy comments, and his favored report that pushes greater reductions in funding leads us to conclude that Governor Kasich values the districts that have the lowest per pupil expenditures.  Therefore, in our final rankings we ranked districts in inverse proportion to their per pupil expenditures (lowest amount is top-ranked).  Since these expenditures include many factors outside of a district’s control, we weighted this measure at only 20%.

5. Of total current operating expenditures, percentage spent for classroom instruction as determined under standards adopted by the state board of education;

For our final rankings, we included expenditures that are defined as Instructional and Pupil Support, though districts make individual determinations on the classification of these items on budget reports, resulting in inconsistency across districts in this category.  In the future, it should be expected that the Ohio Department of Education will require expenditures to be further defined in order to more accurately fulfill Kasich’s mandate, a process that would ironically require additional administrative expenses by both ODE and school districts to ensure proper accountability.  We have much evidence to support Kasich’s stated desire to increase the percentage of dollars spent “in the classroom” and have therefore rewarded those districts that report a higher percentage of expenditures on classroom instruction with the better ranking.  The strong emphasis on this factor by the Governor and the implication that this measure is more significant than a district’s overall expenditures led us to weight this measure as 30% of the overall score.

As a point of clarification, we made this decision even though 17 charter schools reported spending 100% of their dollars exclusively in the classroom while another 25 claim to have spent 0% of their funds on classroom expenditures.  These schools are also highlighted in pink on the chart.

6. Performance of, and opportunities provided to, students identified as gifted using value-added progress dimensions, if applicable, and other relevant measures as designated by the superintendent of public instruction.

As with measure #3, we were forced to omit this measure from our final ranking of districts.  We went into greater detail in our previous post, but there are three main reasons we made that decision.

  1. Value-added scores were already used (questionably) in the 2nd criterion, resulting in a district being measured twice on the same data (3 times when we count use of same assessments in #1)
  2. Sample size of gifted students in many schools is too small to provide statistically reliable data
  3. Only 544 of the 1001 districts would have relevant achievement data to produce value-added scores for students identified as gifted


That brings us to our version of Kasich’s school ranking system as now required by law.  We started with the spreadsheet originally released by the Ohio Department of Education and layered on the other measures.  You can download a copy of the full Excel file that contains the full 29 columns by clicking here.

(Clicking the PLUS symbol at the bottom of this inset window will enlarge the view)


And after all this we’re left with one nagging question:

Exactly how does this help our teachers teach and our children learn?