CPS Re-Evaluates Grading And Resources In Wake Of Extended Distance Learning

Apr 20, 2020

As Cincinnati Public School parents and workers adjust to distance learning for the rest of the school year, the district's Treasurer Jennifer Wagner is planning for the next fiscal year.

Before the pandemic, the state froze the amount of money it gives to districts. That decision challenged CPS to meet a consistently increasing student body's needs on a limited income.

CPS officials are projecting an increase of 600 students next school year. Wagner said her team is looking to add $11.5 million to this year's budget to accommodate future growth.

"K-12 will suffer," she said during a Saturday board meeting. "We don't understand yet how, but they're (Ohio officials) already talking about reducing the per pupil allocation for next year."

Now with a decrease in Ohio income taxes due to the high number of unemployment and some homeowners not being able to pay property taxes, Wagner is concerned about future cuts over the next few years. Almost half of the district's budget comes from local property tax revenue and the other half comes from state foundations.

"A 5% decrease in both of those sources would represent close to $30 million of lost revenue for us, which wold be devasting," she said. 

Public hearings are being held Wednesday and May 6 to hear what the community's priorities are.

Pass Or Incomplete Grading

CPS students will receive a pass or incomplete grade as they complete the school year from home. Ohio school buildings have been emptied since Governor Mike DeWine's mandate to close schools in mid-March.

Teachers will give grades equivalent to a student's third quarter performance or higher, which allows students the opportunity to boost their GPAs. The district made the decision to grade this way to ensure students without internet access are not penalized.

The district has continued to increase its contact with students since distance learning was implemented in mid-March but 29% have not been reached.

"Do we feel good about our level of contact with kids, the number or percentage of kids that are engaged with our lessons? I would say absolutely not," Superintendent Laura Mitchell said. "We won't be satisfied until its 100%."

"Are you doing equity checks on those numbers? Do you break out that data based on race? Based on class? Are there patterns there that we should be paying attention to?" Board Member Ben Lindy asked the administration. Mitchell says data hasn't been broken into subgroups and that she planned to add it to her to-do list.

CPS TV

Cincinnati Public Schools is also launching an educational television channel to reach students.

CPS TV will have recorded lessons from teachers along with programming from zoos, libraries and museums. Each weekday will focus on a different theme aimed at preschool through high school students including science, technology, art and math.

The district has also been posting assignments online and handing out paper packets at meal sites.

Deputy Superintendent Tianay Amat says some of the district's students don't have access to the internet at home but may have cable.

Programming starts at 7:30 a.m. on Channel 15 on Spectrum in Cincinnati city limits and channel 804 for Cincinnati Bell.

A previous verision of this article said CPS was moving to a pass or fail grading system. That has been corrected the district is moving to pass or incomplete.