Norwalk school chief discusses preliminary state testing results

Cary Ashby • Jul 20, 2017 at 10:00 AM

Norwalk City Schools has improved on 17 of the 23 indicators or categories in the preliminary state reports.

“Our percent change was from one percent to a 29-percent increase,” Superintendent George Fisk said.

The district received the preliminary results in early to mid-June. Fisk shared them with board members at the next meeting and recently discussed them with the Reflector. The preliminary results contain data which is the basis for the state report cards.

“The official release is in September when the state report cards come out,” Fisk said.

The superintendent was asked to predict what grade Norwalk might receive from the Ohio Department of Education in the final report card, based on the preliminary reports. Fisk said there’s not enough data to do so, but he doesn’t expect it to “change a lot.”

“It typically doesn’t have a lot of changes,” he added. “It’s all individual testing areas. … You don’t get any of the other graded areas.”

In the state report cards, 80 percent is considered the threshold for proficiency. 

“To me, that’s an arbitrary standard that Columbus has come up with to hold public schools accountable,” Fisk said. 

“I’m not a fan of testing in this manner,” he added, but regardless, school districts have to follow what ODE has given them. “It’s the model we’ve been given. It’s the model that’s been placed on us.”

Fisk is focused on improving the district’s scores.

“Three of the areas we didn’t improve on were in math,” he said.

Of the 23 total indicators/areas, Norwalk failed to improve on: Sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade math, fourth-grade social studies and high-school American history.

“We dropped in those areas,” Fisk said. “There weren’t any zeros (overall); we either increased or dropped.”

The superintendent was asked how Norwalk plans to improve on those aforementioned areas. He said during an in-service training, Ashland University will do a district-wide assessment. That includes interviewing kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers and then presenting data on the strengths and weaknesses related to the curriculum. Fisk said those results should give the district a road map on how to improve.

English/language arts in Norwalk saw a 10-percent increase and a seven-percent increase in science, both for third grade through high school. Fisk said that means those were the percentage increases for students deemed proficient by the state.

Third-grade English improved in the district from 55 percent last year to 70 percent.

“That’s a 15-percent jump in one year,” said Fisk, who declined to compare Norwalk’s preliminary results with other Huron County districts. 

“I focus on us more than I do neighboring districts. I am hired to make Norwalk the best district it can be,” he added.

Fisk said Norwalk has developed an “improvement culture.”

“I want our (school) board to know our teachers are committed to improving,” he added.

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