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Making the grade?

IRONTON — State report cards, released Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Education, show all but one of the districts in Lawrence County ranked at “effective” or above for the 2008-09 school year.

The lone exception was Rock Hill schools that dropped from “effective” to “continuous improvement” for the most recent year. School officials however were impressed with the scores that came out of both its elementary and high schools.

Fairland schools also slipped the past year from “excellent” to “effective.” The district saw a 17-percent drop in hitting its required state indicators by only meeting 24 of the 30 required indicators compared to 29 a year ago.

On the other side of the spectrum, South Point schools retained its “excellent” honor for the second consecutive year. It was the only district countywide to earn that distinction.

Staying level at “effective” this past year were Chesapeake, Dawson-Bryant, Ironton, Symmes Valley and Green Local Schools in eastern Scioto County.

The biggest gainers in hitting the required state indicators compared to the previous year were Chesapeake and Ironton schools both of which zoomed up three notches. The biggest dropper was Green Local Schools which fell six spots from 18 to 12.

The report cards show the progress of each district and its individual schools, using four performance measures. The combination of these measures is used to rate each school and district.

Ohio school districts can receive one of six rankings. They are excellent with distinction, excellent, effective, continuous improvement, academic watch and academic emergency.

Youngstown schools were the only school district in Ohio to be listed as “academic emergency” and were the first district to be placed in that category since 2004.

The ODE has been issuing its annual state report cards since 1999.

There are 30 performance indicators that districts or schools can earn. Twenty-eight points are achieved by meeting or exceeding the goal of 75 percent proficient or above on achievement tests taken by students between the third and eighth grades and scores 10th and 11th graders receive on the Ohio Graduation Test that meet or exceed the goal of 85 percent proficient.

The remaining two points are awarded for attendance meeting or exceeding 90 percent district wide and graduation rates for seniors meeting or exceeding 93 percent.

Schools are also assigned a performance index score. This measure rewards the achievements of every student – not just the ones who score proficient or higher.

Districts and schools earn points based on how well each student dies on all tested subjects in grades 3-8 and the 10th grade Ohio Graduation Test.

All achievement tests have five performance levels: advanced, accelerated, proficient, basic and limited.

A students score at the advanced level earns 1.2 points, while accelerated earns 1.1 point and proficient earns 1.0 points. A basic score earns 0.6 points while a limited score earns 0.3 points. Students who are not tested receive zero points.

Each weighted score is multiplied by the percentage of student scores at that level to generate a district’s or school’s performance index.

Districts are also judged on whether it met its goals for adequate yearly progress (AYP).

That AYP category makes sure subgroups such as special education; economically challenged students and minorities are passing certain tests. One subgroup failing to meet its mark will result in a lower report card score.

Here is how each individual district did for the 2008-2009 school year in alphabetical order:

Chesapeake

Chesapeake beat its indicator performance by three this time meeting 23 out of the 30 with a performance index of 93.9. It failed to meet its AYP, but did meet the value added measure. Except for the writing section of the 10th grade OGT, the district either barely met or failed to meet the minimum requirement of 75 percent. Writing came in at 93.5 percent with science at 67.6 percent the lowest. The other three came in at the 70 percentage range.

Those figures improved in 11th grade with science at 84 percent just missing the 85 percent requirement. The other subjects ranged from social studies at 89.6 percent to writing at 96.2 percent. All three schools in the district received an effective rating.

“I am pleased we have made progress, but I am not satisfied,” Dr. Scott Howard, superintendent of Chesapeake schools, said. “We are average, but we are moving toward excellence. We met the AYP last year and slipped a little bit this year.”

Howard cited the students with disabilities in the reading category.

“We know we have lots of work to do with that subgroup. That is why we have moved to employ a direction of special education in charge of putting plans together. It is a challenge, but it is doable.”

The district met all indicators in grades 3, 4, 6, 7, but missed in fifth-grade reading, science and social studies.

“Our intention to the point is to do some in depth analysis of data,” Howard said. “What we can do differently so we can do better. This is not a sprint, but a marathon. We are in for the long haul.”

Dawson-Bryant

The Dawson-Bryant designation from the Department of Education was listed as “effective” again this year. The district met 21 of the 30 indicators (down one from 22 a year ago) and had a performance index of 95.0 of the 120 possible. The 95 is an increase from the 92.8 the district posted for 2007-2008.

For the most recent school year, Dawson-Bryant had a graduation rate of 94.6 percent which is a slight slip from the 95.6 graduation rate the school system had the previous year.

One nice improvement was that the district had met their adequate yearly progress goals. It did not meet the AYP target a year ago. It also jumped up to “ok” from “at risk” in terms of district improvement.

At the elementary level, third-graders posted very good scores in both reading (89.6 percent at or above the 75 percent proficiency level) and math (86.8 percent). Both of these figures represent substantial gains from the previous year.

Fourth-graders also hit the mark in their three subjects with scores of 92.7 percent in reading, 80.5 percent in math and 84.1 percent in writing. All three scores are huge improvements from the year before.

Fifth graders met the state standard in reading (90.9 percent) and science (89.8 percent) but did not hit the mark in math (61.4 percent) and social studies (61.4 percent)

At the middle school level, sixth-and seventh-graders met or exceeded the state standard of at least 75 percent in four of the five subjects tested. Only seventh-grade science (67.1 percent) was below the requirement.

Eighth-graders hit only one of their four requirements with a grade of 75.7 percent in science. Other grades that fell below the required mark were reading (73.8 percent), math (72.8 percent) and social studies that came in at a dismal 38.8 percent.

At the high school level, sophomores taking the OGT fared best in writing (88.6 percent) and math (86.7 percent) but missed the mark in science with only a 68.6 percent.

Juniors taking the OGT led the way in writing with 90.5 percent and social studies (86.3 percent) but missed the 85 percent threshold in both math (84.2 percent) and science (75.8 percent)

The district had an attendance rate of 93.9 percent, down a smidge from the 94.1 it carried the previous year.

Dawson Bryant Superintendent Dennis DeCamp said he was “pleased” with the results and knows improvement can continue.

“We need to work on our indicators because naturally you want to be higher than that,” DeCamp said. “Through the OIP (Ohio Improvement Plan) we should be able to make implementing that our number one priority. I appreciate the efforts of the staff last year for the report cards we received this year.”

Fairland

Fairland schools took a significant drop in this year’s evaluation losing its “excellent” designation of 2007-2008 receiving the next lower notch of “effective.”

This time the Rome Township district met 24 out of 30 state indicators, a 17 percent drop from the previous year when it met all indicators but one. Its performance index reached 98.2 out of 120 points. It was deemed at risk as far as district improvement in the AYP category and pulled a below ranking for value-added measure.

However, it met the state requirement on all subjects on the Ohio Graduation Test for both 10th and 11th grades.

For the 10th grade OGT the state wants at least 75 percent. Fairland’s range went from 86.6 percent in science to 92.1 percent in both math and social science. For the 11th OGT the requirement is 85 percent. Fairland’s range here was 88.8 percent in science to 94.6 percent social studies. Its high school retained an excellent designation with the other schools named as effective.

“We did an excellent job and are extremely proud of our students, the teachers, everyone involved,” Roni Hayes, Fairland High principal, said. “It’s our commitment to academics.”

While the report card focuses on the Ohio Graduation Test results, Hayes says those high marks are simply a byproduct of the overall academic success of the schools.

“Our teachers follow the curriculum outlined by the Ohio Department of Education,” she said. “It is separate by grade. Each grade has contents standards specific to that.”

Green

The Green Local School District’s designation from the Ohio Department of Education was listed as “effective” again this year despite a six point drop in the number of indicators met.

The district met only 12 of the 30 indicators and had a performance index of 90.1 of a possible 120. The district’s index represents two-tenths of one percent drop from the 2007-2008 school years.

For the most recent school year, the district has a graduation rate of 90 percent, which is a 3.5 percent drop from the 93.5 percent graduation rate Green had two years ago.

Again this year, the district did not meet its Adequate Yearly Progress and was again labeled “at risk” in terms of district improvement.

At the elementary level, third-graders did not meet any of the required achievement scores with marks of 72.3 percent in reading and 66 percent in math. Both figures represent a decline from the previous year.

Fourth-graders fared much better passing all three elements of their achievement test. Leading the way was reading at 82.2 percent with math and writing tied at 77.8 percent.

Fifth-graders struggled this past year in Green schools as none of the four testing levels garnered the 75 percent minimum proficiency threshold. Fifth-graders scored highest in reading (72.7 percent) and science (69.7 percent) while having scores of 54.5 percent in math and 48.5 percent in social studies.

At the middle school level, sixth- and seventh-graders met only one of the five achievement requirements with sixth-grade reading getting a mark of 83.9 percent in reading.

Eighth-graders didn’t fair much better with only reading (76.2 percent) surpassing the 75 percent bar. Other grades that were below were social studies (73.8 percent), science (71.4 percent) and math (64.3 percent)

While the district as a whole and both its elementary and primary schools were named “effective” Green High School was listed as “continuous improvement” by the ODE. Much of that rating comes from OGT scores sophomores produced the past year.

At the high school level, 10th graders taking the OGT faired best in social studies (83.7 percent) and writing (76.7 percent) but missed the mark on reading (72.1 percent), math (74.4 percent) and science (67.4 percent)

Juniors did a tad better in passing three of the five requirements needing at least 85 percent. State indicators were met in reading, math and writing but were missed in science and social studies.

Green Local Schools had a district-wide attendance rate of 94.2 percent which exactly matches its score from one year ago.

Green Superintendent Ron Lindsey said he was pleased the district was dong well moving student’s up to the next performance level.

“I am pleased with the scores received this year especially in light of the disruption of the testing cycle with the closing of the primary school. The teachers are doing a fine job in preparing the students for the state tests. The performance index is where this district achieved the Effective rating. Many of the programs we have put in place over the past few years are just now starting to pay dividends in the area of testing. I look for our scores to continue to improve.” Lindsey said.

“I don’t think the staff will be happy until this district receives an excellent rating. We have plenty of work to do to get to that point. Our reading levels clearly need to be better. Our science and math scores need to be much higher,” Lindsey added. “We need to get more of the state indicators—and in many cases that means only having a few more students get to the state standard. We need to make sure our special education students pass all aspects of the test. All of these areas are within our capability. We need to teacher smarter and target our resources toward those weak areas.”

Ironton

Rated “effective” again this year, Ironton City School snagged three additional state indicators to finish the 2008-2009 school year with 22 of 30 indicators met and scored a 93.7 on its performance index, up 3.7 points from one year ago.

Another nice improvement for the Fighting Tigers was the school system meeting its adequate yearly progress for 2008-2009, something it was unable to do the previous year. Ironton schools were also listed as “ok” in its district improvements up from “as risk” a year ago.

One item of note was the district’s graduation rate. While the rate was above the state’s 90 percent threshold, it was nearly 5 percentage points lower than the previous year which saw a graduation rate of 96.3 percent.

Like 2007-2008, one of the most impressive areas on the Ironton report card was the district’s third- and fourth-grade scores.

At the elementary level, third-graders posted good scores in both reading and math (each at 88.1 percent) while fourth-graders fared best in math (91.9 percent).

Fourth-graders also were above the state’s 75 percent threshold with marks of 85.9 percent in reading and 83.8 percent in writing.

The most visible improvement year-to-year for Ironton schools came from its fifth-grade tests. In 2007-2008, then fifth-graders did not hit the proficiency benchmark in any of the four testing areas.

One year later though, three of the four requirements were hit by Ironton fifth-graders including a whopping 91.7 percent in reading (up nearly 30 percentage points from a year ago) and science (86.1 percent, up 32 percent from 2007-2008)

Also achieved was math at 78.5 percent while social studies just missed the mark at 70.4 percent.

At the middle school level sixth-and seventh-graders met or exceeded the state standard of 75 percent in three of the five subject areas.

Those scores include sixth-grade reading (83.2 percent), seventh-grade reading (78.8 percent) and seventh-grade writing (76.5 percent)

Eighth grade scores again continued to be a problem for Ironton schools as none of the state standards for the four subjects tested were met. In fact, except for science, reading, math and social studies saw significant decreases than the year before. Social studies came in at only 30.3 percent.

Things brighten up for ICS at the high school level considerably though.

Sophomores taking the OGT passed all five subject requirements and fared best in writing (88.9 percent) and reading and social studies (both tied at 84.3 percent).

Juniors taking the test did tremendously well with scores of 97.4 percent in writing and 92.2 percent in reading and identical scores of 90.5 percent in both math and social studies. Eleventh-graders did come up a little short in science with a mark of only 78.4 percent.

Ironton City Schools had a district-wide attendance rate of 93.7 percent which was just one-tenth of one-percent lower that the 93.8 percent attendance rate it had for the 2007-2008 school year.

Superintendent Dean Nance was quite pleased with the results.

“It wasn’t a surprise, it was expected. We have a district-wide improvement plan in place and it’s showing,” Nance said. “As long as we make progress, we will get there. I can’t praise (everyone) enough into buying into our change culture.”

Rock Hill

While the district as a whole was listed in “continuous improvement,” two of Rock Hill’s three buildings were listed as “effective,” the elementary and high schools. The middle school was again listed in “continuous improvement.”

As a whole, the district met only 16 of 30 indicators and earned a performance index of 89.9 out of a possible 120 points. The district as a whole did not meet its AYP.

On the elementary level, 87 percent of Rock Hill third graders scored at or above the proficient level in reading, 84.3 percent in math. The reading score is a 10-point jump over last year; the math scores among third graders were up slightly.

Among fourth graders, the percentage of kids scoring at or above the proficient level in reading dropped slightly on the reading portion of the test but rose significantly in math and writing. The percentage of fourth graders scoring at or above the proficient level in math rose nearly 15 percentage points; writing scores rose more than four percent.

Among fifth graders, the most dramatic change was in social studies. The number of fifth graders scoring at or above the proficient level fell by more than 12 percentage points, from 46.1 to 33.8 percent.

Fifth graders also posted a slight decrease in reading but posted gains in math and science. On the science portion of the test, the number of fifth graders scoring at or above the proficient level rose by more than seven percentage points, from 50.8 to 57.9.

The elementary school met 6 of 10 indicators and earned a performance index of 90.3. It did not meet its AYP.

At the middle school, reading scores among sixth graders jumped dramatically: last year only 68.2 percent of sixth graders scored at or above the proficient level in reading; the new figure posted is 83.5 percent. Math scores jumped five points as well.

Seventh and eighth graders were another matter: they posted decreases in all areas on which they were tested. Reading scores among seventh graders fell by roughly 16 points, math by more than 22 points, and writing by more than 20 points.

The middle school met 2 of 10 indicators and scored 84.4 on the performance index. It did not meet its AYP.

Principal Steve Lambert said this year’s report card bears the best scores Rock Hill High School has ever had since the state began issuing report cards and is particularly proud that his high school students are scoring in line with their peers in other Lawrence County districts.

“I think our teachers understand the content standards. And each year we look at data and then we use it to make improvements,” Lambert said. “And I think the kids are buying in (to the changes) and they take this seriously.”

Lambert said one area where he is particularly pleased is the improvement among students who have an individualized education plan — students with disabilities. He said more of them are now passing the state tests and this is improving Rock Hill’s overall standing.

At the high school, sophomores taking the Ohio Graduation Test (OGT) posted gains in every area of exam. The biggest gain was on the writing portion of the test. The number of students scoring in the proficient area rose by nearly 13 percentage points. Among juniors taking the OGT, a seven-point gain was posted in reading; a five-point gain was posted in math. The number of Rock Hill juniors scoring at or above the proficient level decreased on the writing and science portions of the test.

The high school met 10 or 12 indicators and posted a performance index of 96.8 out of a possible 120. It did meet its AYP.

South Point

South Point Local Schools retained its designation of excellent for the second year in a row, increasing the number of state indicators that it met by one for a total for this card of 20 out of 30 indicators met. South Point was the only district in Lawrence County to get an overall excellent rating.

It had a performance indicator of 93.9 points out of 120 points. However, the district failed to meet the state’s requirement of 85 percent in three of the five subjects on the Ohio Graduation Test for 11th graders. For math the students pulled in only 82.8 percent; social studies, 84.4 percent, and science came in the lowest at 80.3 percent.

As did all but two districts in the county, South Point failed to meet its adequate yearly progress, the eastern end district met its value-added measure in the plus category. The middle school received an excellent rating with the other buildings pulling in an effective ranking.

“We would have liked to have gotten a few more indicators, but our teachers and students work hard,” Ken Cook, South Point superintendent, said. “It shows our parents take an active role in their kids’ education. Those are the kind of results you get.”

Cook cited the special needs category as the reason for not meeting the district’s AYP.

“We have to do some more work with special needs kids,” he said. “We understand that and we are working on that to improve those scores. We include those kids in the regular classroom setting as much as we feel like they can handle and do a lot more individualization and targeting their needs.”

One negative on the report card was the district missing the state’s requirement of 90 percent for the graduation rate by almost 7 percent. The superintendent said that the state starts to track for that rate in ninth grade.

“We do have kids who drop out of school and leave,” Cook said. “If you look at the graduation rate as far as AYP we hit that target. For the purpose of what the state requires and tracking those kids we need to do a better job.”

Symmes Valley

As a district, Symmes Valley was listed as effective. It met 26 of 30 indicators and scored 98 on the performance index. It did not meet its AYP.

“I feel like we did really well,” Principal Bob Harris said. “I’, upset we were not better in a couple of areas but I think we have things rectified now.” Harris said his school’s plethora of improvements have to do with teacher and curriculum changes and extra intervention for students who need additional help.

At the multi-level school, third graders posted gains on both the reading and math portions of the test. The number of students scoring at or above the proficient level in math rose almost 10 points from 63.6 to 73.5.

Among fourth graders, there was a two-point drop in reading scores and a two-point increase in the number of students scoring at or above proficient on the math and writing portions of the test.

Fifth graders posted roughly two-point decreases in reading and math.

Sixth graders posted a 10 point gain in reading and four point gains in math and in both areas are substantially ahead of most of their peers across the state. The number of students scoring at or above the proficient level in reading was 94.8 percent, up from 84.9 percent. The number of Symmes Valley sixth graders scoring at or above the proficient level in math was 96.6 percent. The state requirement is that 75 percent of the students score at or above the proficient level on the test.

Seventh grade reading scores rose by nearly two percentage points while the scores in seventh grade math and writing fell. The number of Symmes Valley seventh graders scoring at or above the proficient level in writing fell by more than five percentage points, from 85.3 percent to 80 percent.

Eighth graders posted a sizeable gain in science. The number of eighth graders scoring at or above the proficient level in science rose from 61 percent to 80.6 percent. Eighth graders posted gains in every other area of their test as well.

The multi-level school met 16 of 19 indicators and scored 91.1 on the performance index. It did not meet its AYP.

The high school was listed as excellent and met 11 of 12 indicators. Its performance index was 101.8 out of a possible 120. It did meet its AYP.

Sophomores taking the OGT posted a 10-point on the math portion of the test and a 16-point jump on the social studies portion of the test. The number of Symmes Valley 10th graders scoring at or above the proficient level rose from 81.3 to 91.2 percent on the math part of the exam and rose from 69.3 to 85.3 on the social studies portion.

Juniors posted decreases in every area except social studies, where they posted a roughly four-point gain.

Principal Jeff Saunders said sophomores benefited from a slate of changes aimed at not only improving scores overall but increasing the number of students scoring above the proficient level, in the advanced and accelerated categories.

“We implemented new kinds of intervention last year with 10th grade students, new computer programming and individual intervention with some students,” Saunders said. He credited the Symmes Valley staff and students with being supportive of the changes that have brought about the success.