Among Clinton County school districts, Blanchester Local posted the highest percentage of students passing the state test, while Clinton-Massie and Blanchester tied for tops in meeting test indicators.
The 2014-15 state report cards in Ohio, released late last week, involved the controversial PARCC [Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers] tests, which have been replaced.
At Blanchester Local, 78.3 percent of students tested passed the state test — a category the state calls the Performance Index.
The other three county school districts recorded Performance Index percentages in the 70s range: Clinton-Massie at 76.3, East Clinton at 74.2 and Wilmington at 73.5 percent.
Wilmington City Schools
Wilmington City Schools (WCS) Superintendent Ron Sexton said while he is disappointed in some report card results, district educators “are not going to overreact either.” He said the PARCC test was eliminated after one year because it is unreliable.
It also was the first year the state test was administered entirely through computer technology.
“There lies the bias of [testing] those students who grew up using technology, versus those who only use the technology while at school,” said Sexton.
A positive figure among the WCS results, he said, is the category assessing K through 3 literacy improvement. According to the Ohio Department of Education, this report card grade answers the question “Are more students learning to read in kindergarten through third grade?”
WCS received a “B” letter grade for K-3 literacy, with Sexton pointing to Holmes Elementary School for showing marked improvement.
Though he questioned the 2014-15 state tests in some regards, Sexton said WCS educators “will still delve into the data to find areas where we can improve.”
“I feel very good about what we see going on in classrooms every day and the feedback from parents, as a gauge of the instruction our students are receiving,” said Sexton.
Blanchester Local Schools
Blanchester Local Schools Superintendent Dean Lynch, pleased overall with district test results, said those results are being achieved even though the district spends about $1,500 less per student than the state average.
“We’re getting a lot out of our students,” he said.
Like Sexton, Lynch mentioned differences in the 2014-15 test from prior state tests, noting the PARCC assessment plus the way the test was administered.
The superintendent offered his take on a category in which Blanchester didn’t perform as well as it did in other areas — namely, value-added growth. The state describes this category as a district’s average progress for its students in math and reading, grades 4 through 8.
What that tells him, said Lynch, is it’s hard to progress when achievement levels are already comparatively close to reaching the ceiling.
He commended the district’s administrative team and staff who he said set high expectations for themselves and push the students to achieve high academic scores. He also complimented Blanchester educators for having a vision to prepare for the new PARCC assessment.
Lynch commented on a delay in school districts getting the 2014-15 state test results, and on a trend of having changes made to the tests’ assessed curriculum.
Receiving the results late, he said, provides little or no time to conduct intervention for children or make adjustments. With the state’s selection last summer of the American Institutes for Research (AIR) as the Common Core testing provider for math and English rather than PARCC, that means there now will have been three different assessed curriculum in three years, said Lynch.
Clinton-Massie Local Schools
Clinton-Massie Local Schools Curriculum Director Robyn Donisi said there are “lots of good things to celebrate” in connection with the 2014-15 state test results. She noted the districtwide achievement of meeting 84.4 percent of the indicators.
At the building level, the high school passed all Ohio Graduation Test benchmarks. And the middle school fell short on only one indicator while attaining all others, said Donisi.
In terms of areas that need to be improved, she said even though some grade levels did well in mathematics, it will be important to make sure instructional time reflects the goal that math students use higher-level reasoning in doing math.
Donisi said she is interested in looking at trends that emerge over time and from multiple tests rather than from one test only when district officials decide how best to respond to the 2014-15 results.
There were a lot of new variables in the 2014-15 state test, she said, and instead of district officials panicking and changing things that may be working, “I want to see how this lines up with trends.”
Clinton-Massie has a longstanding tradition of doing well on state tests, said Donisi. A district leadership team will examine the data from the latest test and make recommendations to building leadership teams to “continue what we’re doing well, and take a look at opportunities to improve,” said the curriculum director.
East Clinton Local Schools
East Clinton Local Schools Superintendent Eric Magee said that “especially compared” with last year’s report card and the report cards of other schools around, there appears to be a “lot of good things, a lot of hard work is paying dividends” at East Clinton.
The value-added growth category — which is meant to reflect a district’s average progress for students in math and reading, grades 4 through 8 — shows EC students are growing, and it looks to be an area of growth for the district, too, said Magee.
Educators in Ohio were told to expect to see test results drop across the state, he said, and a lot of schools did show a decrease, but he thinks East Clinton was able to maintain and even show an advance.
For example, scores at the East Clinton Middle School have gone up, he said.
An area where there is a need to improve is the category that assesses K through 3 literacy improvement, said the superintendent.
“Those scores are somewhat new to the [state] report card. Our scores in that area are low at this point. Looking at that and developing some specific plans to address it, I think we will put some good things in that place,” said Magee.
Historically, New Vienna Elementary School has received some lower scores, but those scores have risen, he said.
“There definitely are some good things going on. And while we’re definitely not where we want to be, we are headed in the right direction and confident we will get there,” said Magee.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768 or on Twitter @GHuffenberger.