Ryan Scott Ottney
PDT Staff Writer
The Ohio Department of Education on Thursday released its annual school district report cards. The cards this year set new, often tougher performance criteria and replaces such labels as “Excellent” and “Continuous Improvement” with more familiar letter A-F grades. Grading the number of standards met, only one district in Scioto County received an A, while three earned an F.
Many schools in Scioto County, and across the state, took a hit on the report cards — which many say were inconsistent and did not properly measure school performances.
The 2013 report cards feature letter grades in the first nine graded performance measures, said Ohio Department of Education spokesman John Charlton. Districts and school buildings won’t be given overall grades under the new system until August 2015. Charlton said officials anticipate that many schools will see poorer grades initially in some areas as a result of the adjustment. The initial jolt is expected to subside as the system is fully phased in through 2015.
Legislation that Ohio passed last year required developing a letter scale for school districts, school buildings, community schools, STEM schools and college preparatory boarding schools. Performance criteria included elementary-grade literacy, student academic performance, graduation rates, college readiness and a host of other characteristics.
Among Scioto County schools, Bloom Vernon earned an A for meeting 24 of 24 state standards, a B for performance index (83.7 percent), and an A for Value-Added. Superintendent Rick Carrington was still reading the reports Thursday afternoon, but said he was pleased with their results and believes they can still find room for improvement.
“There’s some areas obviously we’re pleased with, and some areas that looks like we have room for improvement. We speak to our staff about this all of the time. Our goal is to just help all of our kids learn at high levels. That’s where we want to keep our focus. We know if we’re successful doing that, that’s going to bear itself out on the report card and in other areas,” Carrington said.
Wheelersburg earned an B for meeting 21 of 24 state standards, a B for performance index (85.1 percent), and an A for Value-Added; Valley earned a B for meeting 21 of 24 state standards, a B for performance index (80.6 percent), and an A for Value-Added; Minford earned a B for meeting 20 of 24 state standards, a B for performance index (81.2 percent), and an A for Value-Added; Green earned a C for meeting 17 of 24 state standards, a C for performance index (78.6 percent), and an A for Value-Added; Clay earned a D for meeting 16 of 24 state standards, a C for performance index (79.8 percent), and a C for Value-Added; Washington-Nile earned a D for meeting 16 of 24 state standards, a C for performance index (78.9 percent), and an F for Value-Added; Northwest earned a D for meeting 16 of 24 state standards, a C for performance index (77.6 percent), and a C for Value-Added; Portsmouth earned a F for meeting 10 of 24 state standards, a C for performance index (72.9 percent), and an C for Value-Added; and New Boston earned an F for meeting 5 of 24 state standards, a C for performance index (71.2 percent), and a D for Value-Added.
“The new report cards are more difficult, and they’re going to continue to get more difficult. I know we’ve got work to do and we’ve kind of taken a step back from where we were last year. I guess the old adage, sometimes you have to take a step back to take steps forward. We’re definitely looking forward to the new school year,” said Portsmouth Superintendent Scott Dutey.
He said he’s disappointed by the results, and frustrated that the state has changed the school’s numbers several times over the past two months.
“We had 21 students whose results were changed a few weeks ago. We were sitting with third grade math and seventh grade reading. We had met those through most of the summer, but the state said there was a problem with the denominator with a couple districts, and obviously Portsmouth was one of them. Why they can’t get it right and just set it at the beginning of summer when they get the results is beyond me,” Dutey said.
Sciotoville Elementary Academy earned a C for meeting 3 of 4 state standards, a C for performance index (77.8 percent), and a C for Value-Added; and Sciotoville Community School earned an F for meeting 9 of 20 state standards, a C for performance index (72.8 percent), and a C for Value-Added.
“Our position on the report card is, there’s been a lot of change; new components, old components have been changed. We sort of expected that it was going to be not as good as it’s been in the past and I think that was an expectation across the state,” said Sciotoville Superintendent Rick Bowman. “The way we look at it is, there are good things that we see in our report card … and that’s what we want to do. We want to build on those positives. Our intentions are to dig in, and dig down into these components of the new report card to find out what we need to do in Sciotoville at Sciotoville Schools to get better. So we’re going to use it as a tool to move towards excellence.”
Southern Ohio Academy’s standards and Value-Added was not available, but the school earned a D for performance index (63.1 percent).
This is the first year career technical education has been added to the report card, and they are graded on different standards. The Scioto County Career Technical Center (SciotoTech) earned an A for the number of students graduating in four years, a B for the number of students graduating in five years, and an F for post-program placement.
The school showed a 64.2 percent post-program placement among its secondary classes, but also reported an 87.1 percent post-program placement in its post-secondary program — which is not graded by the state. The figures are also three-years old, said SciotoTech Superintendent Stan Jennings.
“The issue with post-program placement is, look at where we’re at. Our placement is at a disadvantage, and there was supposed to be a calculator that went in there — which is not in there at this point — which gave us a benefit for being in the area with the second lowest unemployment in the state,” Jennings said. “What’s even worse is: we had what we felt was the best part of anyone in the state, which is our technical skills achievement; they didn’t even include it in the initial report card. There are supposed to be five standards and they’re only showing three.”
The complete reports, for every school district in the state of Ohio, are available online at reportcard.education.ohio.gov.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Ryan on Twitter @PDTwriter. The Associated Press contributed to this story.