2013-09-07 / Schools

Local districts receive new report cards

By Scott Rawdon

COLUMBUS – Now that the State of Ohio has released its new school district report cards, it’s clear to lake area superintendents where their districts stand.

“We have room for improvement,” said Lakewood Superintendent Jay Gault, however, “We’re doing some awful good things.”

The state report cards no longer rate Ohio districts as excellent, effective, etc. Ohio districts now receive letter grades for specific aspects of education, although Ohio districts will not receive an overall letter grade until 2015 as school districts and the Ohio Department of Education iron out the new system.

Ohio school districts are now graded on achievement test performance indicators; performance index, or individual student achievement; value added, or individual student progress over previous years; Annual Measurable Objectives (AMO), or progress for various groups of students; and graduation rate.

Lakewood met 17 of 24 indicators for a “C” in performance indicators. According to the Ohio Department of Education, these indicators show how many students have a minimum, or proficient, level of knowledge. These indicators are not new to Ohio students or teachers. They are based on a series of 24 state tests that measure the level of achievement for each student in a grade and subject. For each test, it is required that at least 75 percent of students score “proficient” or better to get credit for the corresponding indicator. That is commonly called “meeting” the indicator.

Lakewood received a “B” for performance index. The performance index measures the achievement of every student, not just whether or not they reach “proficient.” Schools receive points for every student’s level of achievement. The higher the student’s level, the more points the school applies towards its index. This rewards schools and districts that improve the performance of highest and lowest performing students.

The number of indicators “met” out of the total possible indicators determines the A-F grade on the report card. The letter grade for the performance index is calculated by dividing the number of points earned by the school or district divided by the total possible number of points (120). Lakewood met 96.4 points for an 80.3 percent, or a “B.”

Lakewood received an “F” for overall Value Added and a “C” for gifted students Value Added. The district received “B’s” for disabled and lowest 20 students Value Added. The Value Added measure highlights the importance of providing the curriculum and instruction that will help all students to grow academically every year.

Value-Added grades are based on a scale that measures a “Value- Added index.” This is the same Value-Added index that has been used for report card purposes since Ohio adopted its use in 2007. A range of “-1 to +1” represents “one year of growth in one year” and is given a “C” grade. Two years of growth in one year earns an “A.”

Lakewood also received an “F” in Annual Measurable Objectives, which is similar to AYP on the old report cards. According to the Ohio Department of Education, Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) measure the academic performance of specific groups of students, such as racial and demographic groups. Each of these groups is compared against the collective performance of all students in Ohio. This will allow the state to determine if there are gaps in academic achievement between groups of students. Ohio has made strides over the years to reduce these gaps. However, much work still is needed to eliminate achievement gaps and bring all students up to the same high level of achievement.

A school or district cannot get an “A” on this measure if one of its groups is not reaching the goal set for all students. This component will review 10 student groups in reading, math and graduation rate and assign a grade for efforts to close achievement gaps in all groups.

Basically, Value Added looks at individual students’ academic growth whereby AMO measures the academic progress of specific groups, such as economically disadvantaged students, those with disabilities, students of color, or those with limited English proficiency. A difficulty in achieving a higher AMO grade is that the district may need to single out these various sub-groups from the rest of the student body.

Lakewood received a “C” in graduation rate with 86 percent of students graduating in four years.

Gault said the school board is creating a plan to identify weaknesses, to be discussed at their next meeting. While the report card had some good news, Gault said math definitely needs improvement, which will be a priority. “We knew this was coming,” he said, and a plan to improve math instruction was already being considered, however, he knew it wouldn’t be implemented until the report card scores were released. “We have been making changes and we’re looking at some pretty drastic measures,” said Gault. “We’re going to improve.”

Walnut Township Schools

Walnut Township met 19 of 24 indicators for 79.2 percent, or a “C” in performance indicators.

The district received a “B” for performance index by meeting 97.7 points for an 81.4 percent.

Walnut Township received an “F” for overall Value Added and a “C” for gifted students Value Added. The district received “Ds” for disabled and lowest 20 students Value Added.

The district received a “C” in Annual Measurable Objectives, which is similar to AYP in the old report cards.

Walnut Township received a “D” in graduation rate with 80.4 percent of students graduating in four years; however, it received a “B” with 90 percent of students graduating in five years.

“We’re a little disappointed in the results,” said Walnut Township Schools Superintendent Randy Cotner. “We’re putting a plan in place to address these issues.” He said he’s working closely with building principals to identify problems and improve troubled scores.

Liberty Union-Thurston

Liberty Union-Thurston met 22 of 24 indicators for 91.7 percent, or an “A” in performance indicators.

The district received a “B” for performance index by meeting 100.4 points for an 83.7 percent.

Liberty Union-Thurston received a “C” for overall Value Added and “As” for gifted students, disabled students, and lowest 20 students Value Added.

The district received a “D” in Annual Measurable Objectives, which is similar to AYP in the old report cards.

Liberty Union-Thurston received an “A” in graduation rate with 96.3 percent of students graduating in four years.

“I think you have to take it for what it’s worth,” said Superintendent Paul Mathews. “Most districts have things to focus on.” He said his district is strong in achievement, but the Annual Measurable Objectives need improvement, which intervention specialists can solve. Mathews said the new report cards make it imperative to monitor student growth, even down to the individual. “In general, we’re pleased with the effort,” he said. “Unless they’re all As, we’re looking to improve it.”

Northern Local

Northern Local met 24 of 24 indicators for 100 percent, or an “A” in performance indicators.

The district received a “B” for performance index by meeting 100.9 points for an 84 percent.

Northern Local received an “A” for overall Value Added and “Cs” for gifted students, disabled students, and lowest 20 students Value Added.

The district received a “C” in Annual Measurable Objectives, which is similar to AYP in the old report cards.

Northern Local received a “C” in graduation rate with 87.2 percent of students graduating in four years; however, it received a “B” with 93.8 percent of students graduating in five years.

“The (Annual Measurable Objectives) is difficult,” said Treasurer Liz Arnold. She said the score includes special needs students who can graduate, but then return to the district for more instruction until they are 23 years old. “You can’t have it both ways,” said Arnold. Testing special needs students before they’ve actually completed all their instruction lowers the score.

“Overall, we are very pleased. We’re proud of our students and staff. They work very hard,” said Arnold. But, “We’re not complacent. There’s always room for improvement.”

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