August 27, 2010
LIMA — Throughout the school year, Perry school employees occasionally found a quick note from their superintendent. Its message was simple: “One student.”
The note represented how the district missed the federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) measure on last year’s state report card. The reminder worked. Perry not only met AYP this year, but leaped from a continuous improvement designation to excellent.
“This report card was very personal to everyone, including my janitors, cooks and bus drivers,” Superintendent Omer Schroeder said. “My staff feels very responsible for all of these students. This was an all-out effort by everyone involved.”
Perry joins 27 districts in the region to earn an excellent rating on the report cards released Friday by the Ohio Department of Education. Nine earned the highest excellent with distinction rating.
Twenty districts in the region are deemed effective and five are in continuous improvement, including Lima schools. The district moved up to the designation last year. Only Quest Academy is in academic watch.
The report cards take into account test scores, attendance, graduation rates, how school districts and buildings are progressing, and how subgroups, such as economically disadvantaged pupils, are doing.
The Ohio Achievement Assessments no longer include writing in fourth and seventh grade and social studies in fifth and eighth grade.
Bath schools moved up a designation to excellent with distinction. The district moved from continuous improvement five years ago to spending two years as effective and then to excellent last year. Superintendent Bill Lodermeier credits the success to investing more time in curriculum and analyzing data.
“It’s really on the backs of the teachers who work with kids on a daily basis, and paying really close attention to what their needs are,” he said. “When you set a goal and you make these baby steps up to it, it is really exciting.”
Ten local districts moved up a designation, 18 dropped and 37 remained steady. Even officials in those districts not moving up say they have things to celebrate.
While Lima schools was unable to move up a rating, it did meet value-added measures this year and added a school, Unity Elementary, to the group in continuous improvement or higher. Heritage and Independence remain excellent schools. Lima South and Lima North middle schools are in academic emergency and West is in academic watch.
Making value added, which measures how much progress was made since the prior year in fourth through eighth grade reading and math, is huge, Superintendent Karel Oxley said.
“That means the average of all of our students is moving at a year’s growth or higher,” she said. “And it is thanks to the hard working staff. They are working their tails off for our kids in this community.
Moving to an effective district will mean meeting AYP, which measures success of pupil subgroups such as racial minorities and economically disadvantaged. Lima schools has 43 subgroups. The district has met the measure in 27 subgroups in reading and 30 in math.
Value added can also negatively impact a designation. Bluffton schools dropped out of excellent with distinction because the middle school did not exceed value added. Yet, the school is in the top 25 in the state in its Performance Index score. The test scores have been high for several years, Superintendent Greg Denecker said.
“It is tough once you get to the certain point to continue to increase those scores next year with the same students,” he said. Bluffton met all possible indicators, and has done so the last five years.
Columbus Grove only missed three indicators, the same as last year. Yet, the district fell from its excellent rating. The district met AYP in the economical disadvantaged students this year, but did not in the special education group.
“We are discouraged a little bit, but then you look at what you did right,” Superintendent Bob Jennell said. “And the things we did right to become excellent, we are continuing to do.”
The rest of the schools in Putnam County are excellent or higher. All Auglaize County schools maintained their designation, except for Waynesfield-Goshen, which moved up to effective. Lincolnview in Van Wert County jumped from effective to excellent with distinction.