State superintendent to retire

COLUMBUS — After more than 40 years in public education, Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Richard A. Ross has announced his planned retirement on Dec. 31. Ross has served as state superintendent since March 2013.

“Coming out of retirement four years ago to advocate on behalf of the boys and girls in our classrooms has been the most rewarding experience in my career,” said Ross. “I enjoyed putting to use my 40 years of experience to strengthen education in our state and I am proud of the progress we’ve made in pursuing new reforms that can position our schools for better academic success.”

Under Ross’s leadership, Ohio has aggressively pursued a number of initiatives to help the state move the needle on student success. Ross said he has focused on a number of themes to strengthen the K-12 system such as improving reading, empowering parents, delivering higher achievement, driving funding to the classroom, increasing flexibility and creating pathways to success.

Ross championed a number of key education reforms to strengthen K-12 education and prepare Ohio’s students for life including creating thousands of new quality pre-school opportunities and the Third Grade Reading Guarantee, so that the youngest learners can get off to a very strong start. The $280 million Straight A Fund proved to be a great example of how to foster innovation, creativity, and encourage new solutions driven at the local level. Additionally, the Adult Diploma program, the Pathways to Diploma and Career Tech education expansion now engage students which – to this point –had not found educational success on a traditional pathway.

“It has been a privilege to be part of efforts to transform Cleveland Schools, help students who are stuck in failing schools like Youngstown, and to create mentorship programs in schools,” Ross said.

State Board of Education President Tom Gunlock said, “Dr. Ross pushed hard for the kinds of reforms that education so desperately needed – never accepting the status quo. His leadership will have a lasting and positive impact on Ohio families for many years to come.”

“It has been an honor to serve the state and work with the exceptionally dedicated team at the department, school district partners, educators, business and community leaders, legislators and especially parents and students,” Ross said.

Ross intends to spend more time with traveling with his wife, and his new granddaughter. A list of Ross’ accomplishments as superintendent is below.

Ross legacy

Having spent more than 40 years in education, Richard A. Ross has served as Superintendent of Public Instruction since March 2013, and has helped champion a number of key reforms to strengthen K-12 education and prepare our boys and girls for life, a release from the state board of education said.

• Securing a Brighter Future for Ohio’s New Generations: Superintendent Ross will leave Ohio’s K-12 education system at a time when K-12 education funding is at record levels, where funds ensure that money meets the needs of students in the classroom and schools that need it the most. This means targeting funding into school districts meeting a carefully targeted series of aid categories to ensure every Ohio child can receive a quality K-12 education.

• Encouraging Innovation through the Straight A Fund: Ohio created one of the largest innovation funds in the nation to help improve student achievement and increase efficiency. Under the leadership of Superintendent Ross, $280 million has been set aside to help schools implement their best reform ideas to encourage student success.

• Helping Students Advance at Their Own Academic Pace: Understanding that each student learns differently and at a different pace, Ross helped implement pilot programs that advance students when they master course material. These programs will enable students to learn at their own pace and lead to better learning environments across Ohio’s schools.

• Expanding Early Childhood Education: Under Ross’ leadership, Ohio has significantly increased the number of preschool opportunities for economically disadvantaged children. Ohio is now serving a record 17,215 students.

• Helping Keep Ohio Students in Schools: To help more of the nearly 24,000 Ohio students who drop out of school every year stay in school and get their high school diplomas, Ross helped champion reforms to identify these at-risk students earlier in their school careers and then devise alternative strategies that better engage them. The Ohio Department of Education and local school districts now are working together on new strategies for more effectively identifying students at risk of dropping out, connecting them with tailored career counseling, and creating new, alternative pathways to diplomas.

• Helping Ohio Adults Without Diplomas Get Back on Track: As many as one million Ohio adults lack a high school diploma. After the age of 22, adults are no longer eligible for traditional high school diplomas, and Ross worked with the Department of Higher Education to engage community colleges and career centers to create new initiatives to help adults earn credits toward a high school diploma, while earning an industry credential.

• Encouraging Mentorship and Community Involvement with Kids: Ross is administering a $30 million (Community Connectors) program that provides matching grants to increase mentorship in Ohio schools. Quality mentoring programs have proven to be effective at helping motivate and inspire students, as well as help them develop skills that lead to success in school and the workplace.

• Expanding Access to Career Technical Education: Ross has been a strong supporter of career technical education and has worked to make sure that Ohio’s high-quality network of technical and vocational schools are available to students beginning in the 7th grade, giving more Ohio students a jumpstart on career education.

• Reducing the Amount of Testing and Providing Flexibility for Students: To ensure that Ohio students are better prepared for success in college or the workplace, and to provide schools with new pathways to achieve their graduation requirements, Ohio updated the requirements necessary to earn a high school diploma.

• Helping Students Get a Jump Start on College: Ross championed new reforms to help more high school students get a jump start on their college career while still in high school. With more high schools able to offer college-level credit, more students than ever before are taking college courses at no cost and are reducing their overall higher education costs.

• Helping to reform the Academic Distress Commission: The department is working with challenged districts to help them avoid being placed under an academic distress commission in the first place. The department is also ensuring commissions makes significant progress with academic and administrative monitoring that is continuous, consistent and focused on expediting academic improvement.

Prior to becoming state superintendent in 2013, Ross served as an education adviser to Ohio Governor John Kasich. In the 1980s through the 2000s, he served as superintendent of a number of school districts including Ottawa-Glandorf Schools, Bryan City Schools and Reynoldsburg City Schools.

Staff report