So many of my clients ask me which school district is the best for students with disabilities. That’s a really tough question to answer! I’ve had families who are very happy with a district’s services for their disabled child in the same city where I’ve had many complaints and, conversely, I have clients who are disappointed with the offerings of highly rated districts. So it truly comes down to how a particular district is equipped to meet your child’s specific needs, and what your expectations are as parents: we all value different things. That’s my lawyer response…all gray!
That being said, there are better chances of finding good special education services where a district is highly ranked in all other areas, as well, and where the district has community support in passing levies, etc. Every year, the state issues a report card to each district, and each school within the district, and posts them publicly on Ohio’s Department of Education website.
Districts are graded in several areas:
• K-3 literacy: are struggling students back on tracking reading proficiency?
• Progress: are students experiencing growth based on their past performance?
• Achievement: how are students performing in the standardized tests for math, English, science and social studies?
• Gap closing: how well is the school doing at serving the most vulnerable populations?
• Graduation rate: what percent of students are graduating high school in 4 or 5 years?
• Prepared for Success: how well are students prepared for their future?
Click here to get access to any district/school report card in the state. If you’d like a more detailed explanation of what exactly is being evaluated in a given category, click here.
Other groups conduct their own assessments with different or additional factors. Niche.com includes student and parent reviews in its ratings, and lists the following as top rated schools in the Northeast Ohio region for 2016:
Rocky River #13
Kenston Local #15
Chagrin Falls Exempted Village #16
Avon Lake #20
Brecksville Broadview Heights #26
Bay Village #28
Revere Local #29
Mayfield City #35
Mentor Exempted Village #37
Kirtland Local #43
Highland Local (Medina) #45
The top rated schools in the Central Ohio region are as follows:
Upper Arlington #5
New Albany-Plain Local #10
Olentangy Local #14
Grandview Heights #30
Click here for the complete list and details on the data.
Report card and formalized ranking results aren’t everything, but they are one good indicator of a district’s success. Before you pack up and move to a “better” district, I suggest talking to parents of other children whose needs more closely match your child’s – or the parent mentor, if the district has one; attend a board of education meeting; schedule a meeting with the school principal, special education director, or superintendent to discuss what the district has to offer; and ask for a tour of the different classrooms. Then, you will be truly informed to make the best decision for your child and your family!