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County schools making the grade

Most Lawrence County schools got a passing grade on the latest Ohio Department of Education report cards.

The results were released Tuesday. This year, Fairland was the only district in the county to receive an "excellent" rating. Symmes Valley and Dawson-Bryant were both rated "effective"-- it is the first time the school district in Coal Grove achieved that rating. South Point, Chesapeake and Ironton were rated "continuous improvement." Rock Hill School District was listed in "academic watch" for the second year.

This year's report cards include something new: a performance index. In this measurement, districts and schools receive credit for every student who takes a proficiency test and for the level of achievement attained. Students who do not take tests do not receive any credit. The combined total of all credits earns a score of 0 to 120 points.

The goal is to reach proficiency (100 points). A performance index above 100 points would mean students, on average, are performing above the proficient level.

Students were tested in the areas of science, reading, writing, citizenship and math.

Fairland rates excellent

Fairland schools met 21 of the 22 indicators that comprise the state's evaluation, and achieved a performance index of 99, a substantial increase over last year's 91.3.

"Probably the biggest thing is how we stack up to other districts across the state," Administrative Assistant Ken Ratliff said. "That (rating) puts us in the top 14 percent of all districts across the state that were rated."

Ratliff said he was also pleased that Fairland schools have had consistently good scores and have shown improvement each year the state proficiency tests have been in place.

Fairland fourth graders posted gains in reading and science while sixth graders posted gains in math, reading and science. Sixth graders posted a substantial gain in citizenship: 81.1 percent of Fairland sixth graders tested at or above the proficiency level on the test. A year ago, that percentage was 63.6.

For the second straight year, Fairland freshmen posted gains in citizenship and math while showing a decrease in the number of students performing at or above the proficient level in writing.

Two schools effective

Dawson-Bryant met 17 of the state's required 22 indicators, achieving a performance index of 97.2. That's a substantial increase over the index of 72 the district attained last year.

Dawson-Bryant Superin-tendent Dr. James Payne said while there is always room for improvement, he is pleased that his district has continued to show continual progress. He credits a hard-working staff, students who want to succeed and an "accept no excuses" attitude toward excellence.

"Our charge last year to the teachers is that we wanted to become 'effective' and we've been able to accomplish that," Payne said. "We're just a few points away from being 'excellent' and obviously that will be our focus this year."

Payne said he hopes state lawmakers will realize that the proper funding of education is imperative to educational achievement.

Ninety percent of Dawson-Bryant fourth graders performed at or above the proficient level on the citizenship portion of the test. Last year that figure was 55.8 percent. Ninety-six percent of the fourth graders scored at or above the proficient level in math and 88.2 in reading.

Sixth graders at Dawson-Bryant also performed well on the test, showing substantial increases over last year in every part of the test.

Ninth graders showed achievement in the areas of citizenship and math.

Symmes Valley lost its "excellent" rating that it achieved last year, but was rated "effective" with a performance index of 96 and achieved 17 indicators.

Symmes Valley fourth graders showed percentage gains in all areas of the test. The number of Symmes Valley fourth graders who rated at or above excellent in math jumped nearly 12 points from 63.3 to 75. Among Symmes Valley fourth graders, 90.6 percent scored at or above the proficient level in writing, a substantial increase from last year's 72.2.

Symmes Valley sixth graders declined in the areas of citizenship and writing, but posted gains in math reading and science.

Symmes Valley freshmen posted increases in citizenship and science but showed declines in the percentage of students ranking at or above the proficient level in math, reading and writing.

Continuous improvement for three schools

Chesapeake schools earned 11 of the 22 indicators on its report card, attaining a performance index of 84.7. Chesapeake fourth graders performed lower this year in the areas of citizenship and math, but the percentage of students in that grade who performed at or above the proficient level increased in the writing portion of the test.

More than 65 percent of Chesapeake sixth graders scored at or above the proficient level in the citizenship part of the test, a gain of more than 10 percentage points over last year. The number of sixth graders reaching or surpassing the proficient level on the math portion of the test jumped four points. The percentage of Chesapeake sixth graders scoring at or above the proficient level in reading increased from 59.4 percent last year to 77.5. Sixth graders also posted gains in writing and science.

Ninth graders at Chesapeake posted gains in math and reading over the previous year, but showed declines in science and citizenship.

Ironton schools were rated "effective" last year, but fell into the "continuous improvement" category this year. The city school district achieved 11 of the 22 indicators on the report card and achieved a performance index of 85.2.

The number of Ironton fourth graders who tested at or above the proficient level decreased in the areas of citizenship reading and writing as compared with last year, but showed gains in the areas of math and science.

The percentage of sixth graders who scored at or above the proficient level in the citizenship area of the test increased more than four percentage points from last year; 52.7 percent of all Ironton sixth graders achieved an acceptable or better rating on the reading portion of the test. Ironton sixth graders fell behind in the areas of math and writing, but jumped substantially in science; 76.8 percent of Ironton sixth graders scored at or above the proficient level in science, as compared with only 46.4 percent the previous year.

Ironton ninth graders performed well in the areas of reading, writing, math and science. The percentage of Ironton ninth graders who scored at or above the proficient level increased by nearly 10 points over last year; freshmen showed a nearly 8 percent increase in science.

South Point collected 13 of the 22 indicators on its report card, and is listed in the "continuous improvement" category again this year, achieving a performance index of 88.6.

South Point fourth graders improved in every area of the test. The percentage of South Point fourth graders who scored at or above the proficient level in math jumped nearly 16 points, from 62.4 to 78.3. The percentage of South Point fourth graders scoring at or above the proficient level in reading jumped to 79.2 from 58.5 last year.

South Point sixth graders showed gains in every area of the test as well. The percentage of sixth graders scoring at or above proficient jumped nearly 10 points in the area of citizenship, nearly 20 in reading, from 45.5 to 64.4.

South Point freshmen held nearly steady in the areas of citizenship and reading over last year, showed slight increases in math and declined in the areas of writing, science and citizenship.

One in academic watch

Rock Hill was the only school district in the county to be listed in "academic watch", achieving only 8 of 22 indicators and a performance index of 78.8.

Rock Hill fourth graders showed improvement in every area of the test as compared with last year. The percentage of fourth graders at Rock Hill who scored at or above the proficient level jumped from 51.5 last year to 56.5 this year. Those students also jumped more than 12 points in reading from 56.1 last year to to 68 percent this year. Fourth-grade writing statistics jumped more than 20 points.

Rock Hill sixth graders showed gains in citizenship, reading and writing, but posted declines in math

The percentage of Rock Hill sixth graders scoring at or above the proficient level in reading increased by more than 10 points and increased by more than 13 points on the writing part of the test.

Rock Hill ninth graders showed declines in

the areas of citizenship, science and math, but increases in the areas of reading and writing.

Statewide, 608 districts received a state rating. Eighty-five attained an "excellent rating," 177 were rated "effective." Only

52 districts were listed in "academic watch" and only 16 were listed in "academic emergency."

For the first time this year, all students' test results are included on the state, district and school building report cards in 608 school districts. In past years, some students with disabilities and those with limited English proficiency were exempted. Ohio's report cards also include the results of students from the major racial and ethnic groups and those who are economically disadvantaged.