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Schools’ reports issued

When the year 2000 school report cards come out, nearly half of Lawrence County Schools stand a good chance of meeting the new guidelines in standards established by Senate Bill 55, educators said.

Wednesday, July 14, 1999

When the year 2000 school report cards come out, nearly half of Lawrence County Schools stand a good chance of meeting the new guidelines in standards established by Senate Bill 55, educators said.

Based on proficiency test scores, the Ohio Department of Education will issue the schools a report card, as it has for two years now, listing a performance rating that could range from academic emergency, to academic watch, continuous improvement or effective.

Schools have been using the recent report cards to gauge performance in order to meet the 2000 requirements.

Last year, Fairland Local School District was the only school in Lawrence County to receive a continuous improvement rating. All others fell in the academic watch category.

This year, three of the seven Lawrence County School Districts join Fairland. They include the Dawson Bryant and the Chesapeake districts.

Although Fairland now meets state standards, superintendent Jerry McConnell said he hopes reaching this level will not make him or his fellow educators complacent.

"We’re still interested in obtaining a higher score and accomplishing more of the standards the state has requested," McConnell said. "We had 11 of the 18 standards met last year and this year we’ve improved to 12 out of 18. We were one of the highest in southern Ohio last year and we’re looking forward to reporting our results to the board of education. Basically, we’ve always tried to offer a strong curriculum and challenge students to the best of their capability."

A school system can never stop trying to improve upon itself, said Fred Wood Jr., Chesapeake superintendent

But it takes more than a school to effect a change on a child, though, Wood added.

"I think that our teachers work really hard and learning is a building process," he said. "Those things put together is the basis to our success. It’s administrators working with teachers to have a successful team effort. And, of course, you can’t forget the parents who are working with their children every night. Teaching a child really takes a full effort from everyone involved."

Dawson-Bryant School District also increased its rating this year from academic watch to continuous improvement.

But, superintendent Don Washburn does not think these exams are an accurate portrayal of any district.

"You can’t really compare one group of fourth-graders to another group of fourth-graders," Washburn said. "You have to take the same group of students and compare their scores on a year-to-year basis. Then, you can more accurately determine whether you’re providing a quality education."

Although only moving up one point in the academic watch category, superintendent Rick Waggoner said the South Point School District is well on its way to meeting new state requirements.

"We’re still on academic watch with eight out of 18 of the performance standards being met," Waggoner said. "We’ve seen an improvement from last year and we are very positive that next year we will have 14 of the 26 performance standards met which will put us in the continuous improvement category. We started implementing our curriculum alignment last year. Because we started this year, this year’s report card shows some improvement and we will probably have some favorable results next year when it really counts."

Tom Ben was slightly disappointed with the Symmes Valley School District report card this year.

Although the district increased its standing by three points, it was still one away from continuous improvement, the superintendent said.

"You’re always pleased with progress, but our expectations were higher," Ben said.

Currently, Symmes Valley has met nine out of the 18 department of education guidelines.

"We’re taking a much closer look at our curriculum now," Ben said. "One of the things that we’ve had some difficulty in is that we came from four different elementary schools and four different ways of doing things. We’re working on a basis of a curriculum audit we had and the audit has pointed out several areas we need to be working on and the areas are in relation to the proficiency tests."

Officials at the Rock Hill School District continue to adjust their curriculum to follow the state model to increase their rating.

"Some areas we did well in this year and some areas not so well," Evans said. "We’re still on academic watch. We’re trying to adjust the curriculum to more closely follow the state model. We’ve been working all winter, had several meetings on continuous improvement and allowed teachers a large number of professional days throughout the year to go to training workshops."

Evans said the district showed improvements in almost all areas on the proficiency exams.

"In the fourth grade, in mathematics, we were up 4 percentage points from last year and science, we were up 13.7 percentage points district wide," Evans said. "On the sixth grade level, in reading we were up 4.7 percentage points and, writing, we really made gains there, we were up 30.6 percentage points. The tenth grade students who took the ninth grade proficiency test again increased their scores in all areas."

Ironton City Schools did not improve its standing this year, but assistant superintendent Stephen Kingery said he has high hopes of meeting the requirements next year.

"We’ve taken several actions to address the specific needs we have," he said. "For example, we have a new math curriculum at the elementary, we’ve gone to lower class sizes in the primary grades and we’ve implemented all day kindergarten. All these things will help to improve the scores."

All report cards and proficiency test scores for school year 1997-98 are now available on the Internet: http://www.ode.ohio.gov.