Monday February 2, 2004

Oswego City School District Among Best in Nation

"We've kept our schools strong," says school superintendent
By Chris Motola

    The city of Oswego may be struggling to find its best selling point for businesses, but it may not have to look any further than its own school district.

    Oswego City School District (OCSD) was listed as being among the best school districts with 3,500 students in a recent study. The study was performed by Kansas-based Expansion Magazine, a monthly publication mailed to CEOs and other administrative officers who have expressed an interest in relocation or expansion.

    ?In today?s knowledge-based global economy, nothing is more important to companies than the ability to find, and employ, an increasingly well-educated work force,? says Bill King, chief editor of Expansion Management magazine.

    The study ranks large school districts based on an ?education quotient? which takes into consideration three other component factors: graduate outcome, resource index, and community index. Schools were then attributed a color code ranging from excellent (gold) to poor (red).

    ?The Education Quotient provides (businesses) with a way to compare communities nationwide in terms of the quality of the work force they are likely to encounter should they choose to open a manufacturing, distribution, or other business facility there,? says King.

    Oswego City School District received a gold designation and an education quotient of 96 out of 99.

    The district?s superintendent, Kenneth Eastwood, was proud of OCSD?s strong showing.

    ?One of the things we do here is focus on excellence and ?value added? education,? says Eastwood, who explained the value-added concept as being a business term that describes a guaranteed improvement in the knowledge and skills a student takes away from his or her education.

    Oswego?s strongest showing was in the graduate outcome subcategory, which measures the school?s testing performance and the number of students who graduate.

    ?They?re either competitive to go to the school of their choice, to find a job, or join the armed forces,? says Eastwood of OCSD graduates. ?We?ve been addressing the concerns of the community. (The study) validates the fact that we?ve met these goals.?

    Eastwood says the city should consider the district?s excellent performance as a kind of ?asset to be sold? to prospective businesses.

    ?It?s an important asset these CEOs are looking for,? says Eastwood.

    ?We?re strong across the board,? says Eastwood, explaining that the school?s strengths weren?t limited to academics. ?We have one of the strongest music and arts programs in the state. Our students in art have been winning awards left and right.?

    The school?s athletic programs also show OCSD?s strong commitment to learning. According to Eastwood, nine of the 10 teams fielded by the district were comprised of students with an average overall grade of 90 percent or higher.

    The No Child Left Behind Act has called for increased testing and accountability from public schools, but Eastwood says OCSD had been ahead of the game.

    ?We were doing a lot of the things in No Child Left Behind anyway,? he says. ?If you want improvement, you?ve got to have accountability.?

    Oswego received a ranking of 89 in the resource index category, which measures a community?s financial commitment to education. In many traditional studies, resource allocation was used to determine the health of a school district.

    The city?s weakest showing was in the community index category, in which Oswego scored just 31 out of 99. The community index measures the average income of the community.

    ?For an area with as many economic difficulties as we?ve had, we?ve kept our schools strong,? says Eastwood.

    Eastwood stressed the importance of focusing on the positive aspects of the city and using its strengths to its advantage to encourage economic recovery. ?Unfortunately, there?s a negative drumbeat from people who are looking to build their political careers on negative traits,? he says.

    While local community and economic factors do figure in to the total score, by far the most important thing to employers, according to the study, are the testing scores and graduation rates.

    ?That?s the bottom line for potential employers,? says King. ?They want to know if their potential workers are smart enough to do the job, and if they will show up for work every day.?

Oswego County Business Magazine
Issue 158

Issue 158
October/November 2018

Cover Story

Profiles

Nancy Fox

On The Job

What’s Your Must-Ask Job Interview Question?

Success Stories

The Good Guys Barbershop

My Turn

Free Speech in a An Era of Racist, Vulgar Comments

Newsmakers

Newsmakers

Economic Trends

The Impact of Manufacturing and Power Generation on Oswego County

Last Page

Shonna Sargent