DPS: Closing gaps for disadvantaged students key for getting off state watchlist

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DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Closing gaps for disadvantaged students and improving attendance were key factors that led Dayton Public Schools off the state’s watchlist for school districts.

Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Lolli told WDTN.com on Friday the district finished with a C in gap closing, which helped move the district’s overall grade from an F to a D. The results were based on testing scores during the 2018-19 school year.

Lolli said the district had been on the state watchlist at least since 2013. She joined the district in 2016.

“It’s important to understand we haven’t arrived yet,” Lolli said. “We still have buildings that are F’s and you cant celebrate coming out of watch when you have buildings that are F’s.”

Lolli said 12 of the 26 buildings in the district were graded F’s, though each showed improvement in three categories. The district as a whole improved by moving its gap-closing grade from an F to a C.

“None of the buildings fell back,” Lolli said. “The buildings that were F’s saw forward movement in three of the six categories. Hopefully they can show more forward movement and we can see them move to a D or C next year.”

Attendance was up 2-percent during the 2018-19 school year. She said it’s a problem at all grade levels in the district, which has made it top issue.

“We put a goal of five percent this year and we are halfway there,” Lolli said. “We need to push to make it there by the end of the year. We’ve put it more to the forefront and are pushing billboards, radio calls as well as internally to make a difference for the incoming year.”

The buildings that still graded an F are still on the watchlist, but Lolli said the overall grade will mean less scrutiny from the state on the district as a whole.

She said the district strategy focused on core education and not just student intervention. Students were sometimes tested every 4-6 weeks on the curriculum to gauge if they were learning the material. She said teachers from other departments like math and art often served as reading tutors for some grade 7 through 12 students.

“We will stay the course,” Lolli said. “But what this means as far as work for us is it will be more Dayton-based than state-based.”

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