School officials happy with state report cards

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This week, the Ohio Department of Education released its annual School Report Cards, rating districts across the state.

This is the second year that each district and school receives an overall letter grade.

Local superintendents say they are pleased with the performance of their schools.

Marysville, Fairbanks, North Union and Jonathan Alder each earned a B as the overall grade. Triad received a C rating.

“Overall, we are very pleased with a B overall score,” said Fairbanks Superintendent Adham Schirg.

He said added that, “what we are very happy with and pleased with is the work of our teachers.”

Superintendent Rich Baird echoed that thought.

“We are proud of the work of our staff, students, administration, parents and community,” Baird said.

Vickie Hoffman, superintendent at Triad, said the component scores revealed the improvement of her district.

“We are excited about the growth that the district has made,” Hoffman wrote in an e-mail to the Journal-Tribune.

She said an in-depth look at many of the numbers show “evidence that we have made significantly more than 1 year of growth with our Triad students.”

“Last year we made improvements in our percentage passing in 15 of the 22 indicators. Of the six that did not show improvement in the percentage passing, four of the areas were already over the proficiency level.”

The overall grade is calculated by using results in the six components: Achievement, Progress, Gap Closing, Improving At-Risk K-3 Readers, Graduation Rate and Prepared for Success.

The Achievement component of the report card represents the number of students who passed the state tests and how well they performed on them. It also includes an indicator that measures the percentage of students who miss too much school.

The Gap Closing component shows how well districts and schools are meeting the performance expectations for all students, especially our most vulnerable populations of students, in English language arts, math and graduation, and how they are doing in teaching English learners to become proficient in English.

The Graduation Rate component looks at the percentage of students who are successfully finishing high school with a diploma in four or five years.

The Progress component looks closely at the growth that all students are making based on their past performances.

The Improving At-Risk K-3 Readers component looks at how successful districts and schools are at getting struggling readers on track to proficiency in third grade and beyond. Third Grade Reading Guarantee Promotion rate information is also found here.

The Prepared for Success component looks at how well prepared Ohio’s students are for all future opportunities, whether training in a technical field or preparing for work or college.

When a district or school has letter grades for all six components, the overall grade is determined

Marysville Superintendent Diane Mankins said the district has emphasized third-grade reading. This year, 100% of students met the requirement.

“The past couple of years we have really been working on early literacy and so we are really proud of that,” Mankins said.

She said Gap Closing has “been a problem for us in the past.”

She explained that the district has moved to what she called “personalized classroom” that gives teachers a better picture of the academic, social and emotional needs of individual students.

“That helps us identify the strengths and weaknesses of each student and we can try to grow their strengths as much as possible while remediating their weaknesses,” Mankins said.

Baird said his district has taken a similar approach to another component.

“District progress is very important to us,” Baird wrote in a statement to the Journal-Tribune. “To do well in progress, we have to know our students, know their needs, and use best practices in instruction and support. This is definitely a strength for us.”

Jonathan Alder Superintendent Gary Chapman shared a similar sentiment. He said the district places an emphasis on the Gap Closing component, along with the Progress measure.

He said the district’s focus on progress has been reflected by its growth over the past year. He said kindergarten through eighth grade “reading and writing workshops” have contributed to improvement in each area.

“That is something that has really propelled us in terms of literacy instruction,” Chapman said.

Similarly, Schirg said Fairbanks officials, “look at not only achievement, but also at our growth.”

“That is something we are very, very proud of,” Schirg said.

He added that staff members “continue to connect with kids and match their instructional needs.”

The Fairbanks leader said districts had a good idea over the summer what the scores would look like. He said that while the district’s focus does not change much from year to year, the report card, “has already informed some of our practices this year.”

He specifically mentioned a professional development curriculum created by middle school principal Joey Newell “focused on instructional practices.

Officials are also looking at the report cards to identify areas for improvement. Each of the superintendents commented on their district’s prepared for success score.

“Obviously, we continue to look at that and work to come up with strategies for improving,” Mankins said.

Baird said his district, “will continue our work with our strategic plan with a focus on career readiness and literacy in programming.”

Hoffman said her district is always aware of the state grade, but “making changes that are directly evident on a state report card takes time.”

Education officials at the state and local levels have said that while each district receives a grade, the report card is just a glimpse at what is happening in the district.

“While the report card is important, it is just one facet of what we do and it is an indicator, but it doesn’t tell the whole story of what we do,” Mankins said. “Although we are pleased with our grade, it is just one factor of our success.”

In information announcing the grades, Department of Education officials said, “Report cards reflect academic achievement and progress; however, they do not tell a district’s or school’s whole story.”

“There is so much more to the education experience taking place each day across the state. Parents, families, caregivers and partners can gain a more complete picture by having conversations with students, teachers, administrators and community members,” according to the release.

State officials added, “many elements combine to form a teaching and learning community, and Ohio’s districts and schools have many points of pride to share.”



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