Say Yes ranks as top CMSD story for 2019

PHOTO CAPTION: Philanthropist and Say Yes to Education founder George Weiss mingles with the crowd at the John Marshall Campus after announcing that Cleveland had been named the nation’s fourth community chapter of Say Yes.


The first big story of 2019 — the arrival of Say Yes to Education in Cleveland — was also the biggest story of the year.

But while Say Yes grabbed headlines from start to finish, CMSD had other moments in the spotlight, especially when it came to state and national report cards. The District also set standards for others, inspiring plans to help students nationwide control their emotions and schools in Ohio improve attendance.

Here are the CMSD News Bureau’s Top 10 stories of the year:

  1. On Jan. 18, philanthropist George Weiss announced designation of Cleveland as the nation’s fourth community chapter of Say Yes to Education. Say Yes Cleveland provides scholarships that fill gaps in tuition and helps align services, from mental health counseling to after-school programs, that can assist students and families in overcoming barriers to success. In the fall, the Class of 2019 showed a 4-point rise in the percentage of students enrolling in college, the first increase since 2014.
  2. A new state report card, released in September, showed CMSD outpacing a majority of school districts in the state — urban, suburban and rural — for growth in K-3 literacy improvement, graduation rate and performance index, a composite of all test scores. 
  3. A month later, a new Nation’s Report Card, formally known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress, had CMSD faring well when compared with districts across the country.  For example, District eighth-graders improved in reading and fourth-graders held steady while scores across the country declined sharply.
  4. In November, the Board of Education approved a long-term plan for programs and facilities that is designed to maximize use of limited resources, put more students in higher performing schools and modernized buildings and deliver on a promise, made in The Cleveland Plan, to give every child in the District access to a quality education. Based on extensive data analysis and community feedback, the plan included several school closings and consolidations, as well as new construction financed with state funds and a local bond issue. Heeding community input, CEO Eric Gordon delayed a proposal to close the Collinwood high school building. He also withdrew a plan to phase out New Tech West. 
  5. On July 1, CEO Gordon began a one-year term as chair of the Council of the Great City Schools Board of Directors. The council represents 76 of the nation’s largest school systems and serves as the country’s leading voice for urban education. 
  6. A prestigious national commission called for blending students’ social and emotional learning with core academic instruction. Recommendations that were released in January mirror many practices that the commission had examined in Cleveland.
  7. The Cleveland Browns launched a new statewide school attendance initiative that also takes its cue from CMSD. The Cleveland Browns Foundation has served as the lead partner in the District’s “Get 2 School. You Can Make It!” attendance campaign.
  8. Campus International High School was officially named an International Baccalaureate school, making CMSD one of three districts in Ohio to offer IB from kindergarten through 12th grade.
  9. The Lincoln-West School of Science and Health, the only high school in the country based in a hospital, graduated its first seniors, and all were accepted to colleges. State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria visited the school’s classrooms at MetroHealth’s main campus in September.
  10. CEO Gordon, who already ranks as the District’s longest serving superintendent in four decades, received a four-year contract extension from the Board of Education.

The list could have been longer, or other stories could have arguably muscled their way into the Top 10. For example, seven schools — the largest number yet —received state Momentum Awards for academic growth that exceeded expectations. Shoes and Clothes for Kids and school-wear company French Toast launched a three-year pilot program that will provide uniforms and supplies to all K-3 classrooms in five schools in an attempt to improve attendance and reading scores. The Joseph M. Gallagher School chess team won a state championship. Only eight schools started classes with new principals, a testament to District efforts to develop and support school leaders. 

Which stories will stand out in the new year? Follow our ever changing content at and form your own opinions.

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