School reports offer glimpse of performance

Last Tuesday’s Daily Journal included a special section composed of the annual reports from all of the Johnson County public school districts.

If you didn’t look at it, we urge you to dig through the recycling bin to find it. If you’ve already gotten rid of the issue, stop by our office and get one. It’s worth the effort to stay informed about your schools.

The reports are a bit like year-end report cards without the grades. You’ll see how the respective districts compare with respect to such aspects as total enrollment, per-pupil expenditure and teacher salaries.

Of particular note and importance are three variables:

  • Percentage of students in special education
  • Percentage in gifted and talented programs
  • Percentage of limited English proficiency

In each case, you might be surprised how relatively many or few students are included in each group in the various school districts.

The reports also include breakdowns by individual schools. In those sections you will see how enrollment has changed over a three-year period, ISTEP passing rates and attendance rates.

But as administrators will be quick to tell you, numbers alone can’t tell the entire story of school and district success and challenges. In fact, the student-teacher ratio for Clark-Pleasant Community School Corp. is wildly wrong, and district leaders are seeking to get the numbers corrected. So if you see a number that particularly bothers you, talk to a district administrator to make sure the number is correct. If it is, then you can ask why.

The reports are a helpful tool that will leave better informed about your school, the district and the other districts across Johnson County. But keep in mind, they are a snapshot, not a nuanced portrait.

At issue

School district performance reports offer a wealth of information about Johnson County’s schools.

Our point

The data represent a snapshot of the respective districts, not a complete picture.