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Friday, February 27, 2015

Could I have more information about the school ranking system?

“I don’t understand everything that goes into Ohio’s school ranking system. Could you help?”

Up until the 2013-2013 school year, Ohio public schools and school districts were given one of six ratings: Excellent with Distinction, Excellent, Effective, Continuous Improvement, Academic Watch, and Academic Emergency. The ratings were based on attendance, high school graduation rates, how many students passed the state tests and how well they scored, and the value-added calculation, which is meant to measure how much progress students make in a year. [source] According to the 2009-2010 Ohio State Report Card, value-added scores were calculated for reading and mathematics in schools and school districts with grades four through eight.

Starting in 2012, the state switched to a different system where schools are now given a letter grade: A, B, C, D, or F. The standards have also changed. Graduation rates, test scores, and the value-added calculation are still taken into account, though there’s now an overall value-added calculation as well as specific ones measuring the progress made by gifted students, lower-performing students, and students with disabilities. The new rating system also measures how many students are learning to read in kindergarten through third grade, whether schools are closing the education gap, and how well the schools are preparing students for life after graduation.

The “Gap Closing” grade currently measures how many students are meeting the state standard in reading, math, and graduation rate. Along with the total number of students, there are nine different subgroups that can be evaluated: American Indian/Alaskan Native, Asian/Pacific Islander, Black, Hispanic, Multiracial, White, Economically Disadvantaged, Students with Disabilities, and Limited English Proficient. As long as there are thirty students in a subgroup, that subgroup will be measured and factored into the grade. [source]

The “Prepared for Success” grade currently measures how many students participated in ACT and SAT tests and remediation, how many participated in the Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs and how well they scored on the exams, and how many received honors diplomas, dual enrollment credit, and/or industry-recognized credentials. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

What won the Newbery Award this year?

Established in 1921 and named for eighteenth-century bookseller John Newbery, the Newbery Medal is awarded annually by the American Library Association. Winners are chosen by committee and must meet certain criteria. The book must be written for children (defined by ALA as people fourteen years-old and younger) and must be written in English by an American author and published in the United States. The award is given to books published the previous year. Fiction, nonfiction, and poetry are all eligible. The committee does not consider the book’s popularity, only its artistic merit.

ALA announced its winners on February 2. The Newbery went to Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover, a novel in verse about twin basketball stars who must deal with a crisis in their family. Cece Bell’s El Deafo and Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming both took home Newbery Honors. Past Newbery winners include Susan Cooper’s The Grey King (1976), which is also the fourth book in Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising series, Sharon Creech’s Walk Two Moons (1995), and Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book (2009). A full list of Newbery Medal and Newbery Honor winners can be found on the ALA website. 

The American Library Association awards a variety of prizes to distinguished media for children and young adults. It announced the rest of its winners on February 2, including the winners of the Randolph Caldecott Medal for most distinguished picture book, the Michael L. Printz Award for excellent young adult literature, and the Coretta Scott King Awards for African American authors and illustrators of outstanding children’s and young adult literature. The Caldecott Medal went to The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, written and illustrated by Dan Santat. The Printz was awarded to Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun. Jacqueline Woodson picked up the Coretta Scott King Author Award along with her Newbery Honor for Brown Girl Dreaming, and Christopher Myers won the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for Firebird, which was written by Misty Copeland.

All of these books can either be borrowed at the Newton Falls Public Library or ordered through CLEVNET, so patrons of all ages are welcome to come in and enjoy some award-winning books.

Friday, February 6, 2015

I'm looking for a Consumer Reports article on car batteries.

Before making a significant purchase, many people like to check Consumer Reports to make sure they’re selecting the best possible product for their needs. To meet this demand, the Newton Falls Public Library has a subscription to Consumer Reports and keeps a few years of back issues. We also carry two years of the Consumer Reports Buying Guide. All but the most recent issue of the magazine are always available for borrowing.

Looking in the most recent edition of the Buying Guide, our patron found that Consumer Reports had done a write-up of car batteries in its November 2013 issue. We looked through our back issues, but that particular issue had been checked out. Fortunately, there was still a way to access it.

CLEVNET provides an online database containing the full text of every Consumer Reports article back through 1991. It’s available on all our library computers, and patrons with a CLEVNET library card need only their card number and PIN number to access the database from anywhere. (Anyone who has forgotten their PIN or doesn’t remember choosing one when they registered for their card is welcome to call or visit the library to have it reset.)

The online Consumer Reports database allows users to search by keyword or to select a specific issue by month and year. By pulling up the November 2013 issue, we were able to find the car battery article that our patron needed.

EDIT 5/15: CLEVNET now has a subscription to, making it even easier to find and compare product reviews and ratings.