Kudos to our schools for making the grade

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 22, 2003

Tribune editorial staff

Some scores went up and some went down, but for the most part, Lawrence County school districts did well on the latest Ohio Department of Education report cards.

Fairland was one of only 85 of the 608 school districts in the state to attain the "excellent" rating. Dawson-Bryant and Symmes Valley, meanwhile, were among 177 schools rated "effective." Even though some schools slipped a little in their scores, this could be deceiving since the state added a few new

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components to the report card.

The federal No Child Left Behind legislation that President George W. Bush signed into law in January 2000 has forced a new grading system that is tougher and more complicated and requires each state to come up with its own way to tally scores. Ohio has done an admirable job of trying to comply with this act. This year, for the first time, school report cards gauged "adequate yearly progress" of students in the major racial and ethnic groups and those who are considered poor. Before No Child Left Behind, many students were exempted from proficiency tests for various reasons or their scores were not reported separately.

This year's report cards also include

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.

In Ohio, this means some school districts got lower or higher ratings than last year for a variety of reasons not in place a year ago.

Your local school district can explain its standing in more detail or, if you like, visit www.ode.state.oh.us/reportcard on the Web to view your district's report card.

Even though there is always room for improvement, Lawrence County schools' report cards represent a significant step forward. Our students deserve a round of applause for their efforts.