State report card chaos should ease when grades for your district, school come out Thursday

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Grades may rise a modest amount on Ohio's 2017 state report cards that come out on Thursday, now that the transition to

CLEVELAND, Ohio - This year's state report cards for your school district and local schools will have a lot fewer shocks than the last two years when they are released Thursday morning.

Ohio saw plummeting grades and dramatic swings in results in 2015 and 2016, the state's first two years of transitioning to new multi-state Common Core learning standards. The A and B grades that used to dominate report cards turned to C and D.

The chaos of changing state tests two years in a row also made results more volatile.

But that chaos should be over now.

This year's report cards will be based on scores from the second year of using tests through the American Institutes for research. And the lower grades that were a shock in 2015 now serve as a baseline to compare how scores are improving or falling.

They may even rise this year.

The state school board was told in July Ohio students scored better on the state's English tests this year than last year - with proficiency rates rising 5-6% for most grades.

Students, though, had much smaller gains in math and sometimes scored worse.

"Across the board, numbers tend to be up," Chris Woolard, the director of accountability for the Ohio Department of Education, told the board. "That's a good thing and we'll see how that plays out."

We will see for sure when full report cards are released Thursday morning, though the state has not announced an exact time.

The Plain Dealer and Cleveland.com will have an overview here as soon as they are available.

You can also click cleveland.com/datacentral to see grades for any school and district.

Scores first fell when Ohio used new Common Core exams from PARCC, a multi-state testing partnership, in 2015 but the state legislature fired PARCC.

Ohio used tests developed by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) for 2016  then again this spring.

Don't look for a simple grade for each school or district, however.

State officials will wait until next year to start giving each school and district a grade from A to F, delaying those grades during the transition between tests.

You will instead find grades for six categories or "components" - Achievement, Progress, Gap Closing, Graduation Rate, K-3 Literacy and Prepared for Success. 

The state considers achievement and progress the two most important measures. The achievement grade will rate how much students show they know on the state tests and are the closest thing to the grades parents and students alike receive on their own report cards.

The progress grade rates how much students gained from year to year. A school with poor test scores could receive an A in progress if students improve more than expected. A high-scoring school could receive a F even if students score well, but improve less than expected.

Here's the state's guide to deciphering the report card results:

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