As noted in the editorial above, insisting only that certain percentages of children in a school district must pass standardized tests is not good enough. Every student is important.
Still, standardized tests can tell us something about failing school districts. In Ohio, what they say is that the big urban systems are all in trouble - and some are disasters.
Consider third-grade reading proficiency tests. State officials consider it acceptable if 75 percent of a school district's third-graders achieve "proficient" or above scores in reading. During the 2010-11 school year, percentages of third-graders hitting that level in the 15 school districts in Belmont, Jefferson, Harrison and Monroe counties varied from a low of 71.5 percent (Harrison Hills) to a high of 98.4 percent (Steubenville city schools).
But the range in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Toldeo, Akron, Dayton and Youngstown city and municipal districts was 55.2 percent (Dayton) to 70.4 percent (Cincinnati).
Clearly, Ohio's urban school districts are not making the grade. Such failure on a massive scale would not be tolerated in East Ohio - and should not be in the cities.