Voucher Program Targets 3 Shaker Schools For 'Underperforming'

The program offers vouchers in districts with under-performing schools. A district spokesperson said the additions were "perplexing."

By Chris Mosby, Patch Staff

SHAKER HEIGHTS, OH — The state's controversial EdChoice program expanded this month, adding three Shaker Heights schools to its eligibility list. The program offers private school vouchers to families in districts with under-performing public schools, as designated by the state.

The three Shaker schools added to the EdChoice eligibility list are: Mercer Elementary, Onaway Elementary and Woodbury Elementary. District officials told Patch they were confused by the state's decision to add the schools to the EdChoice list.

"We were surprised and perplexed by the identification of these three schools, all of which provide excellent educational opportunities to our students. Two of them, Onaway and Mercer, earned Bs on the State Report Card. We are still looking at the data to determine whether a mistake was made," Scott Stephens, a Shaker Schools spokesperson, told Patch.

On the state's EdChoice website, it says schools are eligible for addition to the voucher-qualified list if, "any of the following is true for two report cards from 2014, 2018 and 2019: The school received a Performance Index grade of D or F and a Value-Added (overall) grade of D or F on the 2014 Report Card or, the school received an overall grade of D or F or a Value-Added (overall) grade of F on the 2018 or 2019 report card."

Stephens added that a recent study by Cleveland State University named Onaway Elementary as one of the highest performing schools in Northeast Ohio. Lead researchers on that study found the state's ability to measure academic performance lacking. A concern shared by Shaker Schools staffers.

"We are concerned because these designations are based, in part, on tests that the state no longer gives and which were administered as much as five years ago. That means the students who took these tests no longer attend the school," Stephens said. "For these and other reasons we are skeptical about the designation and confident it does not accurately reflect what's going on in these buildings."


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