WCS has an experiment, not a plan

Of the 1,651 elementary schools ranked by schooldigger.com, none have a PK-5th grade configuration, none have a K-2nd grade configuration and only 13 have a 3rd and 4th grade configuration.

There are 82 schools with three grades in a building and 31 with two grades in a building (13 each 3-4, 17 each 4-5, and 1 each 2-3). A plot of all this Ohio data against average school performance shows Grade Level Centers, at best, are average performers.

School rank is mostly predictable by the economic conditions of the community as measured by free/discounted lunches. A few schools (not Grade Level Buildings) have greatly exceeded economically predicted performance including: 1. Steubenville City, 2. Logan-Hocking Local, 3. Mount Vernon City, 4. Tri-Valley Local, 5. Clark-Shawnee Local.

Wilmington City Schools should abandon the futile effort to improve performance by changing school building configurations which will add additional busing costs, adversely affect walkers and families with multiple children and cause additional anxiety to most elementary children due to frequent changes in building, counselors, staff, etc. Data shows it will also do little good. There is zero data to support Grade Level Centers as an improvement in school rank.

The smart thing is to evaluate probable causes of the five districts listed above in overcoming their economic disadvantages to perform very well. Redirect the energy involved in building changes to finding root causes of low performances. Copy the Steubenville student handbooks off the Internet and compare with Wilmington’s looking for programs that nurture families, students or encourage them to look favorable on education.

There is a direct correlation between community prosperity and school rank (performance). I don’t believe you can impose high-ranking school leadership on low-ranking schools and obtain great improvement when there is a great difference in community wealth. However, when the high-ranking schools are from a low-wealth area, such as the five listed above, there is likely much that can be learned and applied to improve your school.

I have much data to show the relationship between school rank and free/discounted lunches, a method to evaluate whether a school system is worthy to be a model school for others to study and so forth. I am available at the Brausch Brewery at 1030 S. South St. 7-9 p.m. Fridays with my data and for discussion.

Tom Brausch