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State rates school districts

The grades are in and those under scrutiny are once again reviewing the results of this year’s state report card to gauge how they did over the past year and where they need to improve.

Each fall the Ohio Department of Education releases measurements of each school district in the state on its job of teaching the youth. It is based primarily on the results of the Ohio Graduation Test. Those statistics show the progress, or lack thereof, in reading, math and graduation rates. The state department also analyzes the degree each district has succeeded in reaching out with the core curriculum to academic subgroups such as those economically disadvantaged or with special needs.

This is the second year the ODE has used an alphabetic grading scale instead of ranking the districts by classifications as in the past. That was when a district was ranked as being in Academic Excellence, Effective, Continuous, Watch or Emergency.

Now it’s A or B or C or D or F.

 

Fairland

Fairland scored a 22 out of 24 on performance indicators this year, one less than last year’s score, but still earning the district an A.

Both indictors not met were in the areas of eighth and 10th grade science, with scores of 78.4 and 78.5, respectively.

The district received more than 90 percent, however, in 14 of the ranked indicators.

Fairland received a B for its performance index ranking, which measures the test results of every student.

In the area of annual measurable objectives, the district received a B. This grade indicates that students in the district surpassed the state’s goal in reading, math and graduations rates. In the area of students with disabilities, however, the district fell short of that mark in reading and math.

Fairland received a 95.5 percent rating in four-year graduation rate and a 94.5 in the five-year graduation rate.

As for the district’s average progress for its students in math and reading grades 4-8, Fairland received a B grade.

Requests for comment from Roni Hayes, superintendent, were not returned by press time.

 

Dawson-Bryant

Perhaps no school district in Lawrence County improved as much as Dawson-Bryant from 2012-2013 to 2013-2014. The district improved in four categories and earned the same grade as last year in another four.

The district’s 1,165 students met 18 of 24 possible standards.

“We took a closer look at the data and tried to provide more in-service and change and redefine our curriculum,” Steve Easterling, superintendent, said. “A lot of our progress was driven solely by the data we received from last year’s report card.”

Dawson-Bryant received a C for its number of standards met, up from a D last year. Four- and five-year graduation rates both were unchanged with a B, but the district’s overall progress for fourth through eighth-grade students in math and reading went from bottom to top: an F to an A.

“Our principals and students work hard and are committed to our students here at Dawson-Bryant,” Easterling said. “We have worked hard in a lot of areas and now we have to keep it up.”

Performance index increased one letter grade from a C to a B and Dawson-Bryant’s annual measurable objectives were also given a B. Grades for progress for students with disabilities and lower 20 percent were unchanged from 2013 with a C.

“Of course we are never completely satisfied and we want to keep striving to do better,” Easterling said. “We have great support from our community and we all have a commitment to the students.”

 

Ironton

Ironton City Schools, with an enrollment of 1,441, saw its overall grade drop from an A to a B, as did its grade for four-year graduation rate. The five-year graduation rate remained a B.

The district met 19 of the 24 possible standards.

“In essence we are not discouraged with our grades from the state,” Dean Nance, superintendent, said. “There were a lot of high points and some areas in which we can improve.”

Overall progress among fourth through eighth-graders in math and reading improved going from a C last year to an A this year. Gifted students’ progress and lowest 20 percent in achievement were both graded a C just as last year and student with disabilities went from a B to an A.

The districts annual measurable objectives were graded a C.

“Compared to districts similar in population and people served we did very well,” Nance said. “We have a district leadership team that analyzes data and establishes areas of focus with the intent of continuing to improve.”

Symmes Valley

Symmes Valley saw a back-and-forth in its results this year over last as it ranked with a C on the indicators that measure how well the students did on the state test, but had a B for its performance index, which shows how many students passed that test.

Last year Symmes Valley had only one C with the rest As or Bs.

Gap closing brought in a B as a measure of the district’s success in reading, math and graduation. The gifted students’ ranking brought in an F, the only F the district received. But work with students with disabilities was graded a B.

“We were pleased with part of ours and not part of ours,” Symmes Valley Superintendent Jeff Saunders said. “We had some lower grades that Symmes Valley is not used to. We are looking very closely to try to improve those grades in the future.”

Many lower scores, even across the state, were the result of the state changing to the core curriculum and the score required to get the grade, the superintendent says.

“We are doing well with students with disabilities,” Saunders said. “But one thing we have to improve greatly are the scores of the students who are gifted. A lot of people may not realize they raised (the percentage points) you have to have to get the indicators.”

 

Chesapeake

Overall Chesapeake received a D for indicators and for value-added that shows how much each student learned in the past year and their amount of growth. Value added is broken down into overall, gifted, students with disabilities and lowest 20 percent in achievement.

Besides the D for overall, the district received an F for its gifted student program, D for students with disabilities and a C for lowest 20 percent. Last year, however, the district’s grade was an F.

“We have come up in several areas but are still not in the A and B range,” Jerry McConnell, Chesapeake superintendent, said. “That is where we want to be. Our goal is to evaluate last year’s report card and make improvements.

“We had professional development utilized last year in regards to the type of curriculum we have been using. We have made improvements there and our teachers have worked extremely hard with our students. Teachers and administrators have made arrangements to work together and make improvements. Last year’s report card we thought could be improved. We were looking for improvement and we have accomplished improvement. Now we are working to get those scores up again by taking a few steps.”

 

Rock Hill

The 1,482 students at Rock Hill schools improved in two areas and dropped in three meeting 15 of 24 possible standards.

Three grades were the same as last year’s.

Indicators met and gifted progress dropped a letter grade from a C to a D. The district’s four-year graduation rate went from a B to a C.

Progress of students with disabilities improved from an F to a D and the five-year graduation rate increased two letter grades, from a D to a B.

“Our staff works very hard,” Wes Hairston, superintendent, said. “If compared to our test scores from past years we, as a district, have made major improvements.”

The district’s grade for overall progress remained an A and progress of the lowest 20 percent remained a C.

“We will continue working to improve,” Hairston said. “We are doing lots of things to try and to improve the best we can because areas where we can improve will always be there.”

Hairston gave lots of credit for the district’s improvements to assistant superintendent and curriculum director Kathy Bowling.

“It’s not where we want to be but we’re getting there,” Bowling said. “We have a starting point and we have a way to go but we will get there.”

 

South Point

South Point, the largest district by enrollment in Lawrence County with 1,720 students, improved in four areas and dropped a letter grade in one. Three categories are unchanged from last year’s report card.

“We made some improvements but fell back on a few,” Mark Christian, South Point superintendent, said. “Unfortunately, the core score has been raised from 75 percent to 80 percent and we met four less indicators because of it, but that is true for a lot of districts.”

South Point students met 14 of 24 standards and earned the district a D, which is the same as last year. Performance index also remained the same with a C.

Overall progress went from a D to a C while gifted students’ progress dropped a grade from a B to a C.

The district’s two Fs were given in progress of students with disabilities and annual measurable objectives. Two Fs from last year were drastically improved as five-year graduation rates went from an F to a C and progress of lower 20 percent went up one letter grade from an F to a D.

“We will just try to improve for next year,” Christian said. “We added one teacher in each building specifically for math and these results are disturbing because they work very hard. But I will not make any excuses. We will address the issues, focus and work toward our goals.”

Overall performance improved from a D to a C while gifted student progress dropped from a B to an A.

As school districts continue to re-evaluate their teaching methods by using the results of new report card, parents are also striving to fathom the changes the state has installed. And at least one district superintendent isn’t sure the old might be easier for the layman to comprehend.

“I have had more individuals asked me about this new report card,” McConnell said. “The older report card, from the indications from the parents, for a lay person, the old one seemed a little less cumbersome.”