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Cleveland schools continue progress despite ‘D’ grade

CEO Eric Gordon says district’s momentum needs continued taxpayer support

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Metropolitan School District's continuous progress matters more than its letter grade, CEO Eric Gordon said Thursday during his annual 'State of the Schools' address.

RELATED: Cleveland schools CEO Eric Gordon gives 2019 State of the Schools address

He noted that graduation and literacy rates of students continue to improve despite the district’s ‘D’ grade on the state report card.

"We earned a D -- we're not celebrating that, that’s not where we want to be," Gordon told 3News before his speech at the Renaissance Hotel before more than 800 people.

Gordon said the grade, which is up from an ‘F,” doesn’t reflect what’s students are doing in the classroom.

RELATED: CMSD receives overall 'F' grade on state report card, but test scores improve

"You're going to see students wrestling with complex academic tasks that are hard to measure on a test score,” he said. “You're going to see them demonstrating their learning in authentic ways to authentic audiences. And you're going to see joyful and adventurous classrooms where learning is occurring.  That's what we need to see in our classrooms. When kids can do those kinds of things, the tests will ultimately take care of themselves."

In his speech, he cited numerous examples of classroom projects and success stories at top performing schools. (You can read the speech by clicking here.)

Gordon also said that the district’s success or failure affects Greater Cleveland.

 "We will not succeed as a city or a region if we don't have strong school systems, not only the Cleveland ones but the first ring and second ring,” he said in the interview. “We are not going get all of our talent to move here to solve our talent challenges because every city is looking for nurses, is looking for those IT professionals, is looking for those construction people. We have to train our way to success and the schools are where that starts."

That point was underscored by the audience that filled the room to hear Gordon and included business and civic leaders who have partnered with the school district.

The audience also included students.

"I want to be a lawyer to help people out so they can live their best lives,” Sapphire Walker, a 7th at Wade Park School. “I want to stay in my community because they are very helpful, and they engage us."

Toward the end of the speech, Gordon said progress will need continued support from Cleveland taxpayers.

“We must, for example, keep in mind that the 15-mill levy supported by District taxpayers for the past seven years expires next year,” he said. “Without the continued trust and support of taxpayers, all the momentum we are gaining can be lost.”

RELATED: Cleveland plans to close multiple elementary schools, relocate others as part of restructuring plan

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