Some scores sub par
Here is a look at some of the measurements that make up the state report card evaluation and how Lawrence County’s school districts performed
For the most part, the data is about a year late and it’s not good. All the schools in the seven public districts from elementary to high school got as many Cs, Ds and Fs as they did As and Bs on the Ohio Department of Education’s report card.
The report card was just released at the end of February, even though most of the data comes from the 2014-2015 state tests
That applies as much to those districts that in the past have pulled a superior overall rating as to those who struggle more. This year, there are not the classifications like superior or good. This time, they are straight letter grades for 10 separate categories. For this round of testing, the state moved to new Common Core-based exams with a multi-state organization. That organization delayed sending the exam data to the various school districts, causing some of the data to be out of date.
The Lawrence County Education Services Center took all the letter grades and assigned a numeric value: A is 4, B is 3, C is 2, D is 1 and F is zero.
That gave the range for the districts from 3.1 for South Point with the top grade point average to Symmes Valley at the bottom with 1. The next highest was Ironton at 2.7; Fairland and Rock Hill tied at 2.1; Chesapeake at 1.9 and Dawson-Bryant at 1.1.
Taking the top categories — Performance Indicators, Gap, Progress and Graduation Rate — Dawson-Bryant High School did the best at 1.8 with the elementary at 1 and the middle school at .75.
There are two performance indicators that show first how many students passed the state test and how well did they do.
At the elementary level, both indicators came in at Cs; at the middle and high schools, the grade for how many passed the test was at C with the indicator showing how well they did at D.
The Gap score shows how well the students are doing in reading, math and, at the high school level, graduation. The elementary and middle schools made Fs in that category. However, the high school brought in an A. The Progress category measures how much each student in grades 4-8 has learned in a year. Again the elementary and middle schools made Fs. Graduation rate for the high school came in at a C.
“We are extremely disappointed,” Dawson-Bryant superintendent Steve Easterling said. “What I plan to do is go back and look at the report card and evaluate and make improvements. We will work diligently to improve.
“I understand there is supposed to be discrepancy between online and those who used pencil and paper. What I have read so far, it seems the schools that did the online testing seemed to have lower scores. Sixty percent of schools that did online testing failed.
“If that is the case we are going back to paper and pencil. What’s best for our district. I don’t want the online as an excuse for us. Sixty percent is pretty high.”
Grade point average for the four categories ranged at Ironton district from the elementary at 1, to Ironton Middle at 2.75, with the high school in the middle at 2.2
The indicator that shows how many students passed the state test came in at Cs for all three schools. The indicator that shows how well the students did on the state test came in at Ds for the elementary and high school with the middle school earning a B.
The Gap scores that show the degree of skill all students have in reading, math and graduation came in at a D for the elementary school, a C for the middle school students and a A for high school.
Progress for students in fourth to eighth grade was D for the elementary and C for the middle school.
Superintendent Dean Nance was not available for comment.
At the elementary level, the Symmes Valley district scored a 73 percent on its performance index. For indicators met, the percent of students who passed the state tests, was 50 percent, or a D grade.
As for progress, which measures all students in math and reading for grades 4-8, the elementary school received an F grade.
Gap closing also brought an F grade for the district. The largest gap is between students with disabilities and the rest of the students measured. In reading, data shows only 35 percent of students with disabilities passed reading, while 41 percent passed math. The data also shows 68 percent of all students in the elementary school passed reading, with the state objective at 71 percent. In math, that percentage was 66 percent, with the state objective at 65 percent.
The grade point average for those categories is 0.75.
At the high school, the performance index was slightly better, at almost 77 percent, still a C grade. For indicators met, the school got an F at 47 percent. For OGT scores, the school’s 11th graders got passing marks in all subjects. Tenth graders passed for math and reading but were deficient in science, social studies and writing.
In the area of gap closing, the school received an A grade, with reading, math and graduation rates all coming out ahead of the state objective.
Four-year graduation rate was a C.
Overall GPA for those categories is 2.0.
Jeff Saunders, superintendent of Symmes Valley, said the district was disappointed in this year’s results.
“Symmes Valley has always traditionally done well,” Saunders said. “This year, for different reasons, our report card was not as good as we expected. And we are already doing things that will hopefully rectify some issues that caused our grades to go down.”
During last year’s state testing, Saunders said the district opted to take the tests online, at the recommendation of the state department of education. He said he believed that played a factor in the lower results.
“Not making excuses, but we are one of those school districts that did our tests online,” he said. “We feel the Ohio Department of Education needs to make everyone do them online or everyone do them with paper and pencil so we are comparing apples to apples.”
A recent survey of hundreds of districts by an administrator at a northern Ohio school determined that school systems which tested online received F grades on a key state report card measure nine times as often as those that used paper and pencil. Districts using online tests also had five times fewer A grades for a value-added measure of academic growth, according to the survey.
Saunders said the district is already committed to online testing this year, but will evaluate whether to go back to the paper tests if the results don’t improve.
“Our staff works extremely hard,” he said. “We know something we didn’t do well and we’ve made those corrections. Whether it’s paper and pencil, they are going to show the work that we’ve done.”
All three Chesapeake schools stayed consistent in performance index, all receiving a C grade. Performance index measures the test results of every student, not just those who score proficient or higher. Chesapeake Elementary School scored a 78.3 percent, Chesapeake Middle 71.2 percent and the high school 75.3 percent.
“I watched all year our teachers, staff and students working hard here,” Jerry McConnell, superintendent of Chesapeake Schools, said. “So we expect our test scores to be good. We know we need improvements in some areas and we have monthly meetings to talk about things we can do to improve.”
For indicators met, which measures the percent of students who have passed state tests, the elementary school scored the highest at 83.3 percent for a B grade, while the middle school and high school came in at 46.2 percent and 47.1 percent respectively for failing grades.
In the progress category, or the school’s average progress for its students in math and reading for grades 4-8 that looks at how much each student learns in a year based on state tests, Chesapeake Elementary received an A, while the middle school got an F. Progress is not calculated at the high school level.
The gap-closing grade each school received shows how well all of the students are doing in reading, math and graduation and answers the question of if every student is succeeding regardless of race, income, ethnicity or disability. Chesapeake Elementary School received a 62.5 percent for a D grade, the middle school 25.2 percent for a failing grade and the high school 77.8 percent for a C.
McConnell said one of the bigger areas of improvement is in math, and the district has already made an addition to improve it.
“We added a staff member at the middle school this year to help the students with math,” McConnell said. “Middle school math is an area where a lot of students start to struggle.”
Chesapeake High School received a 92.2 percent four-year graduation rate for a B grade. Graduation rates aren’t calculated at the elementary and middle school levels.
“We’re proud our students are graduating at a really good level,” McConnell said, adding that some students often start at the school and end up leaving, which counts against the district. “Overall, I can’t say enough about our students.”
After averaging the grades of performance index, indictors met, overall progress, gap closing and graduation rate for each school where each applies, the grade point average of Chesapeake Elementary was a 2.5, Chesapeake Middle School 0.5 and Chesapeake High School 1.75.
South Point schools had a mostly positive report.
In the category of Achievement, which is based on state testing, the district received a C for Performance Index, based on how many students passed the test, and a B in Indicators Met, which tells how well the students did in testing.
For Progress, the school received an A overall. This grade indicates the average progress for students, grades 4-8, in math and reading, and examines how much is learned in a school year, whether students got a year’s worth of growth, and whether they had more or less growth.
In the category of Gap Closing, which shows how well students are doing in reading, math and graduation, and examines whether every student is succeeding regardless of income, race ethnicity and disability, South Point schools received a B.
And for Graduation, which tracks how many ninth graders make it to graduation within four or five years, the district received two Bs.
When averaging the categories and giving the school’s a Grade Point Average, Burlington received a 2.75, South Point Elementary received a 2.5, South Point Middle received a 2 and South Point High received a 2.75.
The South Point school district earned a 3.
South Point Superintendent Mark Christian said he is pleased with his district’s results, noting that the district’s GPA was the highest in Lawrence County.
“It’s the first time I remember us coming in first in the 24 years I’ve been here,” he said.
Christian noted that the district received a boost from last year’s South Point High school graduating class, which was the best academically in the school’s history.
On the elementary front, he said he was particularly proud of how all the schools did on kindergarten through third grade literacy.
“We made the top five in the state,” he said.
Christian said, as a matter of curiosity, his team compared their results to districts in neighboring Scioto County and found they still came out on top.
While the schools earned mostly high marks, with all receiving an A in Overall Achievement and the high school earning an A in Gap Closing, there were a few low spots in the report. South Point Elementary and South Point Elementary each received a D for Indicators Met, and South Point Middle had the district’s lone failing grade, with an F in Gap Closing.
“The point is to make improvements,” Christian said. “We try to shoot for overall.”
While Christian cited things such as the meetings held at both the building and district level to make progress, he said there’s no “silver bullet” to improve scores.
“If there was, somebody would be getting rich on the lecture circuit,” he said. “It’s the small things that matter. We keep trying to get the right combination. The teachers are the ones who make it happen, and we try to give them a good, positive atmosphere.”
The achievement category, which involves grades for performance index and indicators met, faired well for all of the Fairland schools.
Performance index measures the test results of every student, not just those who score proficient or higher, while indicators met measures the percent of students who have passed state tests.
Fairland West Elementary scored an 82.6 percent performance index for a B grade and a 100 percent for indicators met for an A. For Fairland Middle, a 79.1 percent performance index was met for a C grade and the school also scored a 90 percent on indicators met for an A. Fairland High School received an 80 percent for both performance index and indicators met for B grades.
“That’s typically where we’ve been,” Fairland superintendent Roni Hayes said. “I expected those to be about where they are.”
Measured at the elementary and middle school levels is progress, or a school’s average progress for its students in math and reading involving grades 4-8 based on state tests and answers the question of if a student received a year’s worth of growth. Fairland West Elementary and Fairland Middle School both received failing grades in the category.
“As a district, we’ve usually had high scores,” Hayes said. “This year, it was an F, which was alarming, but when I started looking into the reasons why it dropped so much, it had to do with us taking the state tests online rather than paper versions.”
Gap closing shows how well students are doing in reading, math and graduation and focuses on trying to make sure every student is succeeding regardless of income, race, ethnicity or religion. Fairland High School scored the highest in the category with a 100 percent for an A grade. Fairland West Elementary had the second highest score of 75 percent for a C grade and Fairland Middle School came in third with a 62.5 percent for a D grade.
At the high school level, Fairland High School received a 93.9 percent four-year graduation rate for an A grade.
“We’ve never really had an issue with graduation rate,” Hayes said.
After averaging the grades of performance index, indictors met, overall progress, gap closing and graduation rate for each school where each applies, the grade point average of Fairland West Elementary was a 2.25, Fairland Middle 1.75 and Fairland High School 3.5.
At Rock Hill schools, the district averaged an overall Grade Point Average of 2.5.
In the category of Achievement, which is based on state testing, the district received a C for Performance Index, based on how many students passed the test, and a D in Indicators Met, which tells how well the students did in testing.
In the category of Gap Closing, which shows how well students are doing in reading, math and graduation, and examines whether every student is succeeding regardless of income, race ethnicity and disability, Rock Hill schools received a B.
And for graduation, which tracks how many ninth graders make it to graduation, the district received a B for four-year graduation and a C for five years.
When averaging the categories and giving the school’s a grade point average, Rock Hill Elementary, which earned straight Cs, received a 2, the middle school received a 1.75 and the high school received a 2.5.
On the low side, Rock Hill Middle received a D in indicators met and the district’s only fail, an F in gap closing. The high school had a D in Indicators met.
As for positives, the middle school had an A in Overall Achievement, while the high school had an A in gap closing and a B in 4-year graduation
Rock Hill Assistant Superintendent Kathy Bowling said she wasn’t completely surprised with the results.
“It wasn’t as good as we hoped, but it did show what we need to work on to move forward,” she said.
Addressing the F South Point Elementary received in K-3 literacy, she said she understood what was happening with the measurement.
She said the school had been using two measures to measure literacy for K-1 and 2-3, and one was more lenient than the other.
“I understand what happened there. Next year, we’re looking at using one or the other,” she said. “They’re both good measures, but they measure two different things.”
On the F received by Rock Hill Middle School in Gap Closing, she said this was due to students with disabilities not making the progress they had hoped.
She said in the past year, the district has hired a new intervention specialist and is targeting that group more in an effort to improve.
Overall, Bowling said the district is planning to implement more changes to improve, including switching to standards-based report cards at the elementary level and looking at changing intervention programs putting the right staff in the position to help.
“We want to use folks who are stronger in reading in order to target those kids,” she said.