Let’s be clear on this point: Giving single letter grades to schools is a terrible, stupid, invalid idea. It has no scientific basis. It rewards affluent districts and stigmatizes poor schools.

Jan Resseger reports that the state’s letter grades performed as expected. The schools in the most affluent districts get the most A grades. The schools in the poorest districts get the lowest grades.

She concludes:

“Instead of branding Ohio’s poorest African American and Hispanic school districts with “F”s and punishing the state’s very poorest school districts with state takeover, the state should significantly increase its financial support for public schools in poor communities and encourage the development of full-service wraparound schools that provide medical and social services for families right at school. Ohio’s system of branding the state’s poorest schools with “F” grades and imposing sanctions like state takeover undermines support for public education in school districts that desperately need strong community institutions. The school district report cards also encourage segregation of the state’s metropolitan areas by race and family income.”

Stephen Dyer posts graphs showing that charter schools dominate the D and F grades. Of course, that will not sway the charter lobby in Ohio or cause them to rethink their devotion to the free market.

What fascinates Dyer is that ECOT—the virtual charter that collapsed in scandals a few months ago—somehow received an A in achievement because students were not chronically absent. Huh?

He writes:

“This year, ECOT got an A in the Achievement Component.

“How can this be when ECOT has historically been the worst performing school in the state? The answer lies in the fact that ECOT closed half way through the year. So the school did not get graded on several components that it traditionally bombed. The only Achievement category indicator it was graded on was meeting state indicators — raw test score information. Schools can be graded on up to 26 different indicators, depending on how many students the schools tested that are in each category. For example, if a school doesn’t have high school students, it won’t be graded on the performance of high school students.

“Last year, ECOT met 0 of the 23 indicators it was measured on. This year it met one indicator. And it was only measured based on one indicator. What was that indicator?

“I kid you not. It was chronic absenteeism.

“Last year, 13.5% of ECOT’s kids were listed as chronically absent. This year, it was 7.5%, which met the indicator and qualified as an A.

“That’s right. The school that ripped off taxpayers by at least $200 million because it charged for kids who were never there, or were absent for whole months and seasons of time got an A from the Ohio Department of Education because kids weren’t chronically absent.“

Proof positive that school grades are a hoax.