Solon City School District (SCSD) houses the best public schools in America, according to a new list from academic review site Niche.com.
The district is located in Solon, Ohio — a 23,000 person suburb of Cleveland — and hosts six Kindergarten-through-eighth grade schools and one high school.
There are 4,720 students in the district, which boasts a 98% high school graduation rate. Passing scores on state exams are also high, with 96% of students proficient in reading and 95% proficient in maths.
Niche’s ranking included analysis of state test scores, graduation rates, SAT/ACT scores, teacher quality, and racial and economic diversity.
But just 20 miles away, Cleveland Metropolitan School District was slammed with an “F” rating on report cards issued by the State of Ohio in 2016. Cleveland had a high-school graduation rate of 69%, which was an improvement from 2011 when the graduation rate was 56%.
Cleveland student performance on The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), was also dismal. The exam, which is authorised by Congress, tests the largest urban districts in mathematics and reading. Cleveland tied for the worst scores in reading among the 21 urban districts that were tested, which included New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. It scored second to last (in front of Detroit) in maths.
Academic success is not built in a vacuum, and the makeup of the Cleveland student body is striking compared when compared to students at Solon.
While only 9% students in the Solon district qualify for free or reduced lunch, 100% of Cleveland Metropolitan School District students receive this service. The federal guidelines for the 2017-18 school year indicate that a family of four making less than $US45,510 qualifies for reduced-priced, and a family of four which makes less than $US31,980 a year qualifies for free lunch.
Similarly, 10% of Solon students receive special services for a learning disability. Cleveland’s student population with a learning disability is 23% — more than double than in SCSD.
High-poverty schools face challenges that others don’t. Studies show that persistently poor children are less likely than peers to complete high school. Many enter school with language development that lags behind classmates.
Schools must then devote more time and resources to working with these students. The same is true for schools with high percentages of English language-learners and students with disabilities.
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