Cleveland Schools Superintendent Walks Door-to-Door to Improve Student Test Scores

Written by Jason Thomas for

Public schools across the country are taking a hit for poor student test performance, which has become the all-important measurement for school district performance and attached to most state and federal funding. Many schools are being closed, educators are losing their jobs, and some districts are being taken over by the state.
The Cleveland schools is the nation’s poorest, large city school district. It was placed under state control in 1995 by a federal judge, due to mismanagement and low student scores. With 58,000 students currently in the Cleveland schools, the district has been under the control of the mayor since 1998.
Last year, the Cleveland schools hired Dr. Eugene Sanders as its chief executive. He has since developed plans to improve student performance at the Cleveland schools. Some of the plan goals are:
  • The Cleveland schools must improve student performance, before it can ask for public support with a tax increase;
  • District standings on the state report card must be improved; and
  • All tenth grade Cleveland schools students must pass the required, five-part state exam, qualifying them for their high school diploma. The Ohio Graduation Test (OGT) consists of reading, writing, social studies, science and math tests. All tests areas must be passed for a senior to receive a high school diploma.
Sanders implemented several initiatives to meet these goals. Cleveland schools tenth grade students took pre-assessment tests to identify their academic strengths and weaknesses. The Cleveland schools also offered preparation sessions for the OGT on the Saturdays leading up to the actual test.
With the OGT beginning in mid-March, Sanders implemented a door-to-door canvassing campaign in two at-risk neighborhoods within the Cleveland schools. One neighborhood surrounds John F. Kennedy High School, and the other covers the Westside streets near John Marshall High School.
Residents found teachers, principals, Cleveland schools officials, staff, administrators, students and volunteers knocking on their doors to educate families on the importance of the upcoming state graduation test. They were handed booklets with sample questions and tips for taking the OGT to encourage parents to work with their children.
Though these two neighborhoods were targeted for the door-to-door canvas, it is a citywide campaign, involving all high schools within the Cleveland schools. To support the campaign, Sanders established a 24-hour hotline to assist and answer questions for parents and high school students of the Cleveland schools.
In March, Sanders announced several new initiatives. First, he plans to open four same-sex schools. Two will be all-boys schools and two for girls only. Second, uniforms will soon be required for the elementary grades, and possibly for high school next year.
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