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State turns to traditional letter grades to measure progress of school districts

By Don Rutledge
FPS Associate Editor

Gone are the days of “Most Improved” and “Continuous Improvement”.

The new school State Report Card is now using letter grades to evaluate student test scores and their performance.

The release last week of the State Report Card for the 2012-13 school year reveals most local and area schools received letter grades of A, B and C with a few Ds and Fs.

The letter grades were issued in four separate categories, which include: Achievement, Gap Closing, Progress  and Graduation Rates.

Achievement is defined on the State Report Card as a grade combining two results for students who took the state tests. The first result answers the question How many students passed the state test? The second result answers the question How well did students do on the state test? Achievement points ranged from 0 to 120 based on 24 indicators.

Gap Closing is a grade which shows how well all students are doing in each respective school district in reading, math and graduation. It answers the question Is every student succeeding, regardless of income, race, culture or disability?

Progress is the school district’s average progress for its students in math and reading, grades 4-8. It looks at how much each student learned in a year. Did the students get a year’s worth of growth? Did they get more? Did they get less?

The Graduation Rate grade answers the question How many ninth graders graduate in four years or five years?

School District Ratings
The Carrollton School District scored Bs in the Performance Index with an 83.0% for the number students who passed the test, scoring 99.6 points out of a possible 120, and an 87.5% in the number of indicators met (21 of 24), but had a D in Gap Closing with a 66.7% in annual measurable objectives.

The Progress section shows an A in overall value-added, C in Gifted, C in lowest 20% in achievement and F in Students with Disabilities.

Carrollton’s graduation rates earned Bs with 92.1% of students graduating in four years and 93.9% graduating in five years.

Brown Local School District at Malvern had a C in Performance Index, scoring 93.6 points for a 78.0% passage state test rate and a D in Indicators met (15 of 24) for 62.5%. The school district received an F in Gap Closing with 44.4% in annual measurable objectives, an F in overall value-added, a B in gifted and Ds in lowest 20% in achievement and students with disabilities.

The school’s graduation rates received an A with a 94.4% of students graduating in four years and a B with 90.7% of students graduating in five years.

Minerva Local Schools had a B in their Performance Index with an 82.2% passage rate, scoring 98.6 points, and an A in Indicators met (22 of 24) with a 91.7%.

The school district received a B in Gap Closing with an 81.4% in annual measurable objectives, an A in overall Value-Added and Bs in lowest 20% in achievement and students with disabilities. Graduation rates revealed Bs with 90.0% of students graduating in four years and 93.1% of students graduating in five years.

Conotton Valley Union Local School District received a C in the Performance Index with a 76.7% passage (92.1 points), a D in indicators met (16 of 24) with 66.7%, an F in Gap Closing with a 43.0% in annual measurable objectives, a B in overall value-added, Cs in lowest 20% in achievement and students with disabilities. Gifted was not reported.

In Graduation rates the school district received an A or 93.0% of students graduating in four years and a B or 91.3% of students graduating in five years.

Sandy Valley Local School District was rated C in Performance Index with a 79.9% passage (95.9 points) and a B in indicators met (20 of 24) for 83.3%.

Other letter grades were D in Gap Closing with a 61.5% in annual measurable objectives, A in overall value-added, a C in gifted, A in lowest 20% in achievement and a B in students with disabilities. The Graduation rates were a B or 89.1% of students who graduated in four years and an A or 95.7% of students graduating in five years.

Southern Local School District received a B in Performance Index with an 80.1% passage (96.1 points) and a C in indicators met (19 of 24) or 79.2%, a D in Gap Closing with a 60.5% in annual measurable objectives, C in overall value-added, a D in gifted and Cs in lowest 20% in achievement and students with disabilities.

The school district received a C or 84.0% of students graduating in four years and a B or 90.4% of students graduating in five years.

Edison Local School District earned a B in Performance index with 80.6% passage (96.7 points) and a C in indicators met (18 of 24) or 75.0%, a D in Gap Closing with a 61.8% in annual measurable objectives, an A in overall value-added, D in gifted, and Cs in lowest 20% in achievement and students with disabilities.

The school district’s Graduation Rates had Bs in both categories.

Carrollton Schools
Supt. Dr. David Quattrochi said the Carrollton Exempted Village School District is pleased the district received an A in the value-added component. “This means that our students in grades 4-8 are exceeding a year’s growth of learning in a school year,” he said.

“Another highlight of our report card is that Carrollton High School met 100% of the indicators which is a trend that has been occurring for several years.

“However, the new report card continues a history of Ohio constantly changing the rules and standards for schools without sound reason or research to make such changes. Over the past two decades we have had a myriad of state programs and mandates on testing, teacher evaluations and curriculum.

“As the new report card is issued, schools are grappling with a new mandated curriculum known as the Common Core, a new teacher evaluation system (the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System), soon to be released new high school end-of-course tests, the Third Grade Reading Guarantee and new health and safety regulations.

“Overall, I am pleased with what our teachers are doing in the classroom. We have high quality teachers that work hard day in and day out to ensure every child is learning to his/her ability. We will continue to tackle these new unfunded mandates and provide our students with the best education ever,” he concluded.

Brown Local Schools
Brown Local School Supt. Connie Griffin said: “The new state report card is another attempt to rate schools performance primarily on standardized test scores. These tests have never been shown to have a positive effect on students after they leave school; be it in college, the workplace, or the military.

While they are one measure that helps us identify some strengths and weaknesses in our program, they should not be the sole measure of the success of our children.

While we will use the new state report card as one measure of our work, we will not rely upon it as a sole or even the best measure of what we are doing. In fact, it would be short sighted for us to focus solely on test preparation, as it would have a negative effect upon our children limiting the range of educational experiences we offer them in our schools.”

Minerva Local Schools
“Overall, we are very pleased with the continued growth of our students. We will continue to focus on growing each child one year or more in each academic area while building on our instructional strengths,” said Supt. Joseph Chaddock:

“The report card represents the 6th consecutive year of improved academic performance at Minerva.

“Our gifted population is one of the toughest groups to grow academically. These students continue to perform in the highest state categories but scores fluctuate from year to year. We are continually looking at new ways to stretch the growth of this student population.

“This report card is based on a single two-hour test given one time per year. It is only a snapshot of the great things going on in Minerva. We are blessed to live and work in a community that supports its schools and children,” he added.

Conotton Valley  Local Schools
Conotton Valley Local School Supt. Adam Pittis said:
“Conotton Valley is once again thrilled to be ranking very high in the state considering our graduation rate and our value added scores.
Again, value added measures growth from year to year and we are thrilled that our students are continuing to grow educationally! We will continue to improve our performance indicators and all the other unfunded requirements put forth by our state department and legislation.

I do wish that the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) could have transmitted the results to us sooner so that we were not trying to evaluate the data during the first week of school. I am sure that ODE would agree that it is not a good practice to be giving districts their data the first week of the new school year. I guess it is better than last year. We received the data in late October of 2012.

Sandy Valley Local Schools
Sandy Valley School Supt. David Fischer’s response:
“The Sandy Valley administration and staff are currently reviewing the new state report card. We try to make data-based decisions at Sandy Valley and this report card is another tool for checking our progress.

However, as superintendent, I want to make sure that we do not put too much stock into this one report; whether that grade on the report card is good or bad. As with all of the state assessments over the years, the data continues to have room for error.

Keeping the end goal in mind (graduation), I like to focus on the graduation rate and ask the question, How are we doing getting all of our students prepared to graduate from High School?

Therefore, I am extremely pleased that we received an A on our five-year graduation rate.

Although we did not receive an overall grade yet, I would caution anyone in trying to make assumptions. As an example, if a student receives an A in Physics and Calculus, but receives a C in Language Arts and History, I don’t think a parent of that student would exclaim that their son/daughter is a B student by taking the averages.

I would tell that student that the data shows that they have the potential to be an excellent engineer or scientist. Likewise, we will use the new state report card to check the progress of our strengths and weaknesses.

Although there is a new accountability system, Sandy Valley will not teach to the test, but instead, we will continue to offer a thorough and rigorous curriculum while being good stewards of the taxpayers’ money.”

Southern Local Schools
Southern Local School Supt. John S. Wilson commented:
”In regards to the state report card at Southern Local, we are pleased with the results; however, not satisfied in the sense that we are continuously trying to improve instruction and drive our curriculum to meet 21st century learners needs.

Now that the report card reflects value added measures, we need to focus on student growth and interventions that will enable our students to achieve and grow. At the end of the day what really matters at Southern Local is what is happening in each classroom with our students.
Our teaching staff has embraced this evolution in education and will ultimately reflect in future report cards.”


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