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State rankings neglect to tell success stories found in Akron Public Schools
Published 6:00 a.m. ET March 22, 2022
On March 12, the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) STEM High School won the 2022 Ohio VEX Robotics Competition. This marks the school’s second consecutive state championship. In addition, Firestone high school finished in the top 10. These wins qualify both schools for the world championships, and all of the competitors and their supporting families, teachers and coaches deserve hearty congratulations.
Akron Public Schools are consistently ranked low among all state districts, yet these rankings don’t accurately measure academic success, opportunity, social emotional learning or myriad other components that constitute quality education.
Rather, state rankings most closely measure parental income. In 2019, the median income for A ranked districts was $95,423. For F ranked districts, the median was $32,658. In all districts, on average, students with economic advantages outperform students without such advantages in ranking criteria.
There are many reasons for which children from households struggling with poverty perform poorly in state ranking criteria, such as housing instability, poor nutrition and health habits in the family, lack of books in the home, generational trauma, etc. For these students, however, unfortunate circumstances need not determine their future. In Akron, students coming from
difficult situations enjoy numerous opportunities and many break the cycle of poverty.
For example, students who choose Akron Public Schools encounter opportunities for an education focused on their interests and desires. APS offers an almost limitless number of programs that often surpass those found in other local schools. Just one of them resides in the STEM cluster — as demonstrated above — not to mention the arts, International Baccalaureate, medicine, marketing and machining, among the dozens of other pathways available to students.
All APS students who excel academically (3.0 GPA or above along with a qualifying ACT score) qualify for a full scholarship to the University of Akron. Students at the I Promise School that meet requirements are eligible for full scholarships to either UA or Kent State University.
Graduates of Kenmore-Garfield High School qualify for tuition and book scholarships to Stark State College from Akron Promise. Project GRAD Akron, the AVID College Readiness System and other programs operate to facilitate preparation and access and some provide scholarships to postsecondary education. Students attending Akron Early College High School graduate with both a high school diploma and an associate degree, saving two years of college
tuition toward a bachelor’s degree if that is the path they choose.
APS is clearly the district of choice for local education. Don’t let the state of Ohio rankings fool you.
Tom Ghinder is the parent of Akron Public Schools graduates and founder of Akron Promise. In 2017, Akron Promise started the process to implement direct programs for students at Kenmore-Garfield High School. These include the Student Success Team, ACT testing support programs and the Kenmore-Garfield Stark State College scholarship.