Brookfield Local School District scored a C on its recently released state report card.
While that is the same grade as the district earned the previous year, Adam Lewis, the district’s director of teaching, learning and accountability, said the details show much has changed for the better from the last report card to this one.
“I’m very happy to say that, as a district, we did not regress in any of the categories,” Lewis said.
In fact, some of those categories showed marked improvement, particularly gap closing, which measures how the district’s most vulnerable students are performing, those in subgroups based on income, race, ethnicity and disability.
As a district, the gap closing grade went from a C to a B, which reflects the elementary school gap closing grade spiking from an F to an A, the middle school jumping from an F to a B, and the high school improving from a B to an A.
“I think a lot of that has to do with the way we’re looking at students on an individual level, and that came from the way we’re identifying our at-risk students,” Lewis said. “We’re kind of focused on the students that are struggling the most and providing interventions to them.”
In other gains, the overall high school grade went from a C to a B – “Not a lot of districts in the area were able to earn a B,” he said – and the high school progress grade, which measures “where a student starts and the expected growth that they’re supposed to make in a given year,” as Lewis explained, went from a B to an A.
However, there are significant deficiencies, according to the report card, starting with achievement, how well students do on state tests. The district as a whole and the high school, middle school and elementary school each earned Ds, the same grade as the previous year.
“Our areas of focus, it’s always gonna be achievement,” Lewis said. “We’re always trying to score higher on our state assessments.”
The standard to meet is having 80 percent of students score at least proficient in whatever subject they are being tested on, such as math, English language arts, social studies and science, he said.
“We hit the proficiency mark in one of those categories, American history,” Lewis said. “We have an 81-percent passage rate. We had some other subject areas that were very, very close.”
With Brookfield’s small class sizes per grade – many are less than 100 students – the difference between 70 percent and 80 percent can mean only a few students, and only a few questions for each student, Lewis said. That’s why focusing on the most struggling students is so important, he said.
Other areas of concern are the elementary school’s D in improving at risk readers in grades kindergarten through 3; the middle and elementary school’s Ds in progress; and the high school’s F in prepared for success.
There are similar strategies to try to improve Brookfield’s grades no matter what grade level, including using diagnostic tests to measure what level students are at and guide how teachers teach; focusing on students scoring in the lowest 20 percent and offering them extra help; and providing teachers more data on student performance and giving them training on how to interpret the data, Lewis said.
It falls to Lewis to make sure the curriculum is aligned between grades so that no matter what program or textbook a grade is using for a subject, lessons flow seamlessly into the next grade.
With the prepared for success grade reflecting what students have done to prepare for the next level, such as taking college classes while still in high school and attending Trumbull Career and Technical Center, High School Principal Kristen Foster has brought more colleges and skilled trades representatives into the school, and worked to provide more on-line college classes so that students don’t have to leave the building, Lewis said.
The district has a career counselor, Rob Eggleston, and “He does a really good job of tracking all of our students and laying out a path for them,” Lewis said.
The high school’s graduation rate earned a B, which does not yet reflect the fact that all of the school’s eligible seniors graduated last year – that will show up on the next report card – but officials are looking at innovative programs to help students who have credits to make up, including allowing students to take alternative schedules and creating an afterschool program that would offer tutoring, Lewis said.
Despite the deficiencies that remain, Lewis said the district is on an improvement plan.
“The district made only positive gains, which is huge,” he said. “We didn’t take any steps back.”
Ohio School Report Card for Brookfield Local School District for 2018-19
Overall district grade: C
Gap Closing: B
Brookfield High School: B
Gap closing: A
Graduation rate: B
Prepared for success: F
Brookfield Middle School: C
Gap closing: B
Brookfield Elementary School: C
Gap closing: A
Improving at-risk readers in grades kindergarten through 3: D