Belpre Board of Education discusses state test scores

Belpre City Schools Board of Education member Brenda Church, left, Superintendent Tony Dunn, center, and board President Fred Meredith, right, look at a presentation on state test scores during Monday’s board of education meeting. (Photo by Michael Erb)

BELPRE — State testing scores for Belpre City Schools do not reflect the work and achievement in classrooms, school officials said Monday.

The Belpre City Schools Board of Education met in regular session Monday evening at the district’s central office in the former Stone Elementary School.

Bernie Boyce, the district’s Director of Instruction, was not available Monday, so Superintendent Tony Dunn led the board in an abbreviated review of the state scores.

This year, the Ohio Department of Education issued grades to public school systems throughout the state based on test scores and a variety of other indicators. Throughout the state, districts scored poorly, and officials have argued the state grades are not indicative of the quality of education in those districts.

Dunn gave board members a list of scores and comparisons to both Washington County school systems and “similar-sized” school systems throughout Ohio. In most comparisons, Dunn said, the district was at or near the top.

“In many ways we’re very competitive with the districts in Washington County,” he said.

Dunn said the board will have a more full review of the test scores in November, but urged them to look at the level of growth rather than the ranking given to the district by the state. In most areas, the school system saw improvements, but did not necessarily meet the benchmarks set by the state. Those benchmarks increase every year.

“You can get some valuable data from this, you just have to use the data correctly,” Dunn said. “It was never designed to be a teacher evaluation tool. It is a growth data tool.”

Boardmember Brenda Church asked if Dunn anticipated a change in state standards. Dunn said he would hope the standards would remain relatively unchanged for the next six to eight years.

“Standards are not something that ought to change on a regular basis,” he said. “You’ve got to have enough time to retool and focus on those new standards to get some good data on how you’re teaching. I hope they don’t change, for a few years anyway.”

Dunn also presented a brief overview of Belpre City Schools’ “Strategy of Excellence,” a series of local goals and benchmarks set by the administration and school board. Dunn said in nearly all of those areas the school system has met or exceeded the mark.

“This (state) report card doesn’t do justice as to what we do here,” he said. “I have a lot of trepidation in justifying this just by sharing it.”