Ohio’s education department says student achievement in the state improved in every subject area last year.
State superintendent Paolo DeMaria says district report cards released Thursday show more first-time test takers in 2017 than in 2016 scored proficient or higher in every subject area.
But DeMaria says families should judge their schools by more than report cards because they don’t measure teacher engagement, arts offerings and more.
The percentage of students testing proficient fell for only two tests — fifth-grade math and high school history.
Public schools’ overall performance index rose nearly 2.5 points, and graduation rates improved.
The state says educators and students are continuing to adjust to new tests, higher achievement targets and more challenging expectations.
Districts won’t face consequences for poor report cards until 2018.
According to the ODE, last year school districts stopped receiving an overall letter grade score. Instead, they were judged on 10 different measures that are categorized in six components for the 2015-2016 school year.
There are no new measures on the 2016-2017 report cards. Districts and schools are graded on Achievement, Progress, Gap Closing, Graduation Rate, K-3 Literacy and Prepared for Success.
“The tests have changed for three straight years, and districts are now being judged on how they prepare students for success. The state Legislature raised every indicator to 80-percent to get a passing grade,” according to the ODE’s website.
Blanchester Superintendent Dean Lynch broke down the district’s scores into two categories:
• Positives — “Improvement on our Gap Closing Measure (F to a C); improvement on our K-3 Literacy measure (D to a B); maintained solid grades on Progress (B) and Graduation Rate (A) measures; the District met five indicators which is tied for the most (with CM) in the county; the district had the highest score in Region 14 in the areas of 7th Grade English; we were above the state average on 20/23 assessments.”
“One of those three assessments that did not meet the state average was our 8th Grade English assessment,” said Curriculum Director Raechel Purdon. “We made the decision to allow our 8th grade ELA advanced students to take the HS English I exam instead. By doing so, these students received high school English credit and graduation points as 8th graders. This reflects our decision to do what is best for our students even though we take a hit for that decision on the grade card.”
• Opportunities for improvement — “All assessments that did not meet the state average (5th Grade Science, 8th Grade and HS Biology); all assessments that did not meet the 80% threshold; Prepared for Success measure.”
“Schools now have two solid data points from these new A.I.R. tests and trends are beginning to show lower test scores (when compared to the former assessments) across districts throughout Ohio,” said Lynch. “We’re probably seeing the beginning of lower testing norms than what we are used to. Nevertheless, I’m so appreciative and proud of the staff in each of our buildings. Our teachers and their students continue to establish Blanchester as one of the academic lighthouses in the county and our region.”
First-year Wilmington City Schools (WCS) Superintendent Mindy McCarty-Stewart said although academic indicators were not achieved, she is optimistic WCS is taking steps in the right direction.
She is pleased with some of the early-grades literacy results, as well as the progress section (sometimes called value-added).
“We have developed a very clear and focused three-year plan for the district. I am very optimistic that if our community, parents, students and staff stay focused and committed to that plan, we’ll start to show results,” McCarty-Stewart said Friday.
The district has an all-out effort on attendance, and is aiming at improving the school “climate,” and, of course, working to improve academic success, she said.
The schools, said the WCS superintendent, have made some great strides in the past several years. She mentioned there are seven advanced placement courses, three College Credit Plus classes at WHS, and more than 70 percents of WHS 2017 graduates are attending college.
People can miss a lot about a district if they focus only on the results of the state tests, added McCarty-Stewart.
Clinton-Massie Local Schools Superintendent Matt Baker said he’s happy with the progress made from the prior testing results to these latest results — for Massie, about half of the tests saw a double-digit increase, though some of those numbers still were short of the state’s 80 percent goal.
Attaining six indicators “confirmed us as the top county school,” Baker said Friday, as the other three districts met fewer indicators.
Clinton-Massie’s career readiness component came in the highest among the dozen school districts in the Southern Ohio Educational Service Center’s four-county region, Baker noted.
As for planning for the future based on the state scores, the superintendent said the district needs to break down the data in an effort to find weaknesses in aspects of a particular content area. If weaknesses are identified, then those weak links need to be addressed with professional development for teachers and intervention for students.
“I believe in general the direction we’re headed in is the right direction, and we expect those successes will be stabilized and built on in the next year,” said Baker.
East Clinton Superintendent Eric Magee could not be reached Friday.The grades for the four Clinton County school district schools are below. Schools not rated in a particular category are not shown.
Achievement: Denver Elementary, C; East End Elementary, D; Middle school, D; Holmes Elementary, D; WHS, D
Progress: Denver, C; East End, D; Middle school, B; Holmes, C; WHS, D
Gap Closing: Denver, F; East End, F; Middle school, F; Holmes, F; WHS, D
Graduation rate: WHS, C
K-3 literacy: Denver, A; East End, D
Prepared for success: WHS, D
Achievement: CMES, C; CMHS, D; CMMS, C
Progress: CMES, A; CMHS, D; CMMS, B
Gap Closing: CMES, C; CMHS, B; CMMS, F
Graduation rate: CMHS, B
K-3 literacy: CMES, B
Prepared for success: CMHS, C
Achievement: BHS, D; BIS, C; BMS, D; Putman, C
Progress: BHS, C; BIS, B; BMS, B;
Gap Closing: BHS, B; BIS, C; BMS, F; Putman, D
Graduation rate: BHS, A
K-3 literacy: Putman, B
Prepared for success: BHS, D
Achievement: ECHS, D; ECJH, D; New Vienna Elementary, D; Sabina Elementary, C
Progress: ECHS, D; ECJH, D; New Vienna, A; Sabina, B;
Gap Closing: ECHS, D; ECJH, F; New Vienna, F; Sabina, B
Graduation rate: ECHS, B
K-3 literacy: New Vienna, C; Sabina, B
Prepared for success: ECHS, D.
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