How’s this for guts? The Cincinnati, Ohio Public Schools have just adopted a plan describing in clear, ambitious detail, their goals for the next five years. It’s a bold, important document, one that communities all over the country can learn from. Even districts with higher achievement than Cincinnati may gain from studying their easily understood, concrete goals.
Cincinnati’s strategic plan describes where the district was in the 2004-05 school year, and where it wants to be by the 2010-11 school year. For example:
- High school graduation rate: 77 percent of 9th graders who entered four years earlier graduated in 2004-2005. That’s up just over half in the 2000-2001 school year. But the district rightly is not satisfied, and wants to achieve 95 percent by 2010-11.
- College entrance tests: Most recent figures available show that 53 percent of CPS students take college entrance tests. The district wants to increase that to 75 percent. The district also wants to increase the average students’ score on the ACT from 20 to 23, and the average combined score on the SAT from 869 to 1000.
- Rigorous high school courses: CPS wants to increase the percentage of students taking Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or other college level courses from 18 percent to 30 percent.
- Kindergarten readiness: The district aims to increase the number of kindergarten students "on track" from 49 percent to 59 percent.
These are examples of 16 different indicators that the school board has adopted. This is a great example of using various assessments to measure progress. (You can see the full plan here.)
Over the last five years, our Center, with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has worked with Cincinnati’s high schools, helping them increase graduation rates, test scores and attendance. But I was not involved in the creation of the district strategic