HOME Media Kit Advertising Contact Us About Us


Web The Truth

Community Calendar

Dear Ryan


Online Issues

Send a Letter to the Editor



TPS Defies the Odds; Good News in State Report Card

By Fletcher Word
Sojourner’s Truth Editor

The Ohio State Report Card is being released this week and Toledo Public Schools, notes the report, can boast a graduation rate of about 80 percent and student enrollment numbers that are on the upswing. There is a lot of good news in this year’s report card for a district that has been buffeted over the last several decades by a diminishing population base and persistent financial difficulties.

By any economic measurement, Toledo is one of the most forlorn cities in the U.S. The city has a persistent high rate of poverty, a high rate of homelessness and a human trafficking dilemma.

A recent study prepared by the University of Toledo Jack Ford Urban Affairs Center notes that “Toledo reflects a trend seen in many urban centers that were previously reliant on manufacturing; structural change in the economy leading to job loss, as well as other factors such as suburbanization and ‘white flight’ led to dramatic population loss over several decades, which in turn led to abandoned housing and disinvestment in certain sections of the City.” (Poverty Study, Executive Summary).

Such difficulties over the decades inevitably led to a decimation of the public-school system – lack of operating funds, decreasing school enrollment, an impoverished student population and, of course, failing district grades on the state generated report cards that have become commonplace around the nation.

Toledo Public Schools started to feel the impact of this trend as the 1900’s came to an end and then began to bottom out during a period after the Great Recession. In the five years from 2010 to 2014, the student graduation rate was at an all-time low of 62 to 64 percent – lower for African-American and Hispanic students; lower for students from poor households and much lower for the disabled students. The district’s enrollment rate bottomed out in the 2012-2013 academic year at 21,333 from a high of over 30,000 several decades previously.

However, five years ago, the current TPS administrators, under the leadership of Superintendent Romules Durant, EdD; Deputy Superintendents James Gault and Jim Gant, set about to change the landscape, to bring opportunities to the students that matched what the world, and particularly the Toledo area workplace, had to offer after graduation.

Career tech became not only a buzz word but also an attainable opportunity for students all over the city. There are now more than 40 career tech offerings spread out over the school system. Students pursuing the traditional path to a higher education have also been presented with more opportunities. Advanced placement offerings have increased in half a decade from four to 23; students can take seven different foreign language courses – even Russian; 12 associate degrees are available before a student completes his or her high school diploma requirements.

Durant notes that there are students enrolled in district high schools who rarely attend their schools in their senior years because they are spending all their time attending college courses. A goal, he says, for the district is to increase the value of city taxpayer funds by allowing as many students as possible to attain college degrees as debt-free as possible.

Graduation is only one of the two key measurables of a school system’s success or failure, adds Deputy Superintendent Gault. The other key aspect is the achievement of third graders. That’s the level at which the foundations of brain architecture are virtually complete and the lack of adequate early childhood education – preschool, kindergarten – is virtually impossible to overcome.

On this year’s Third Grade Guarantee – the Percent of Students Meeting Promotion threshold – the TPS District reached an achievement rate of 85 percent, an increase of 13.1 percent over four years (from 71.9 percent).

An improvement in kindergarten readiness, increased opportunities for preschool-aged students, early identification of at-risk students are among the number of programs the district has adopted to prepare students for the third grad and the Promotion Threshold.

For Durant and Gault, the current report card, showing such positive trends in graduation, enrollment and third grade testing results, is the result of the efforts of many. They commend the community for approving an uninterrupted string of levy requests – a 100 percent approval rate over the last five years.

They also are grateful for a board of education whose members have been not only supportive but also active in championing and encouraging the progress the district has made.

“The board is very pleased,” says Stephanie Eichenberg, the board chairman. “But we will challenge parts of the report card as it relates to large urban districts.”

The negative aspect of this year’s report card is that TPS is mired in a below average grade – the district improved from and “F” to a “D.” That’s a huge improvement from the standpoint of being out of the academic emergency category, but is not reflective of what has been accomplished, says Durant and Gault.

“We’re building an institution,” says Durant. “We want to educate our kids to work here.” The plan is to keep local businesses involved and to make sure that there is a pipeline from school to college or career so that students have a place to call home in this area after graduation.

An improvement of graduating six out of 10 students over the past five years to graduating eight out of 10 is astonishing in a town mired in poverty. But it’s not enough yet, say the town’s educators.

“There’s more work to do,” says Gault.



Copyright © 2019 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 09/12/19 23:47:48 -0400.

More Articles....

The Ability Center’s Next Steps Summer Program Prepares Youth for Adulthood

Art & Soul joins ​Sarnies Café​ on the first floor of Main Library

TPS Makes Gains on State Report Card

TPS Defies the Odds; Good News in State Report Card


Back to Home Page