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Canfield schools on top of the game

March 11, 2020
J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

Canfield Schools are riding high this month with two notifications from the state on how well they are doing. One notification regarded an overall A award for Canfield Village Middle School (CVMS) from the State Board of Education and the other was for the districts special education, which got the highest rating possible for five consecutive years.

On the CVMS award, the State Board of Education gave an "Overall A Award" as a result of the school's performance on the 2019 Ohio School Report Card. The award involved demonstrating high academic performance and is part of an elite group of schools that show excellence in areas such as closing achievement gaps, academic growth, helping children build strong reading skills and analytical skills that keep them on track to be college and career ready.

"This means when you take a composite of everything on the report card (performance index, gifted, special ed, attendance) we graded out to the highest achievement which is an A," said CVMS Principal Judd Rubin. "I attribute this to the hard work of my staff, supportive parents, and vertical alignment in both math and English language arts."

Rubin said in his five years at CVMS, the trend has risen each year with the past two years receiving recognition from the state. He said it is the highest honor for the school right now, but there may be something more if the school can maintain the award for three straight years.

John Tullio, Interim Superintendent said, "This award is a reflection of our outstanding educational system and the dedication of all students and staff."

He added the State Board also commends the community for its support of the school.

On a district level, Canfield received the highest-possible rating for the fifth consecutive year in its Ohio Department of Education (ODE) Special Education Annual Rating and Special Education Profile. The state uses these two tools to rate the performance of a district when it comes to special education programs.

For five years, the Canfield Local School District received the highest rating possible with no required remedial actions in the Special Education Annual Rating. This rating is based on compliance with the Individual with Disabilities Education Act and for performance of students with disabilities. The same applies to the Special Education profile which shows a district's progress over time in meeting goals for students with disabilities. The design of the profile helps districts use data regarding the academic growth of groups of students in order to keep improving their special education programs.

Indicators that help guide continuous improvement include children with disabilities entering kindergarten ready to learn, achieving at a high level, are prepared for life, work and post-secondary education.

It also looks at districts implementing IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) to improve services and results with children with disabilities. The profile is also designed to inform a district of any noncompliance or required activities that must be completed to demonstrate compliance with IDEA.

John M. Vitto, Director of Special Services for Canfield Local Schools, said the district works hard for all students.

"We have strong, caring, and conscientious staff who provide a quality service to students," he said. "We work diligently to be both in compliance with the rules set forth in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and also for the academic growth and performance of students with disabilities. We are proud of our record of inclusion and this data shows that we far exceed the recommended targets for the amount of time students with special needs spend in the general education classroom."

Canfield presently has 309 special education students. It is hard to maintain the services needed when the Federal and State government underfunds it. Vitto said the services are mandated as is compliance with IDEA, but Canfield only receives 20 percent of the cost. On top of the funding, the rules, procedures and documentation can be complicated and cumbersome for both parents and schools.

Staff also has to be engaged at a larger level than most would think. Since special needs students spend significant time in the classroom, Vitto said all school staff are involved with special services. Designated special education staff includes intervention specialists, behavior specialists, psychologists, speech and language therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, adaptive physical education and paraprofessionals.

As for the biggest challenges for Canfield, Vitto said, "We strive to help students overcome the challenges they face in one or sometimes multiple areas such as: physical, visual, hearing, cognitive, language, social, emotional or behavioral. Ultimately, we are preparing them for life after high school."

Tullio said, "This finding from the Ohio Department of Education solidifies that we are committed to our vision which states 'We will create an educational environment which challenges each student to achieve at their highest potential.' Our staff, k-12, is to be commended for their outstanding efforts in meeting the needs of our students at their level."



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