Ryan Scott Ottney
PDT Staff Writer
While browsing over the Scioto County Career Technical Center’s state report card, Superintendent Stan Jennings looks at their 64.2 percent post-program placement as glass half-full. He said that it means 35.8 percent of their graduating high school students are a ready workforce, in-place for potential new industries.
“There are all these kids that have their technical skills attainment in place and they’re not working. There’s your workforce, ready to go right this minute,” Jennings said. “The only thing we need is a couple of employers and you’re good to go.”
When the Ohio Department of Education released its annual report card of local districts on Thursday, last week, many schools were disappointed that the new format and teaching standards resulted in lower-than-expected scores. Located in Lucasville, the Scioto County Career Technical Center (SciotoTech) report card reflected an F for post-program job placement (64.2 percent), an A for students graduating in four-years (95.7 percent), and a B for students graduating in five-years (94.2 percent).
“Those numbers to me … 65 percent … they can put an F on it all they want, but I feel like we did a pretty daggone good job for those kids that year,” Jennings said.
Another problem with the cards, he said, is that they’re using outdated information. Jennings said those statistics are from 2011 — the same year Masco closed its factory in Waverly.
“Feds come to you and they say, ‘Wait a minute, you were running 80 percent placement. Why all the sudden did you drop down to 65?’ And you go, ‘Well, we just lost 350 jobs out of the county.’ And most of the high school kids don’t want to leave. The post-secondary stays nice and high because they’ll leave,” Jennings said.
On its post-secondary side, which is not graded by the state, SciotoTech also reported an 87.1 percent post-program job placement.
“Let’s say they don’t want to give us credit for our unemployment rate, which by the way is 13.8 percent. Let’s say they want to throw that out. Fine. You don’t want to give me a challenge factor, fine. Make me the same as Cincinnati, but you’re fooling yourself. You know there’s far more (jobs in Cincinnati). But at least give me credit for the fact that my guys could be working if the job was there. I’m very disappointed they left that out,” Jennings said.
Even though the post-placement numbers for 2012 aren’t available yet, Jennings said he believes they have gone up.
“We had more early placement than we had for a very long time. The early placement means kids from January and on started working. That’s the largest number of those that we’ve had for years and years and years,” Jennings said.
This is the first year the state has released report card data for career technical centers in Ohio, and Jennings sat on the committee to develop those standards.
“Our recommendation from my committee is, don’t do this for a year. No. 1, you’re not collecting the data to the point you can logically do it. Until you can aggregate those numbers together, aren’t you fooling the population-base if you show them graduation numbers for this group, but at the same time you’re going to aggregate together a placement for two-years previous to that. It’s not even within a year. It’s two years apart,” Jennings said.
When the state finally released their findings, Jennings was upset to find many of their recommendations were dropped from the report card. What the state didn’t grade in the report, he said, was their technical skill attainment, which measured at 80.9 percent.
“We actually go over-and-above on technical skills attainment. That (the report card) only looks at the web exam; and let me make a differentiation — we think that ultimately inside that report card, they don’t understand that the web exam is a state-created test. Whereas if you look at what we try to look at, which is our industry standard … look at, for example, culinary. They have a thing called ServSafe. Or Cosmo, they have a state exam. Electricity is NCCR. Welding is AWS. Or any of the rest of them. We scored high there as well, and those are a value-added. And you could be 16 or 61, that’s the test you will take. This is not a high school test. This is an industry-standard test,” Jennings said.
He said the intention of the report card is “not terrible” but the system is “flawed.”
The complete reports, for every school district in the state of Ohio, are available online at reportcard.education.ohio.gov.
Ryan Scott Ottney may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Ryan on Twitter @PDTwriter.