Last updated: August 24. 2013 7:07PM - 351 Views

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LIMA — Failed levies and cuts to staff and programming didn’t stop Delphos schools from not only maintaining its rating on this year’s state report card but jumping up to the top spot.

The district earned the highest designation, Excellent with Distinction, according to preliminary report card data released Wednesday. It is a first for the district, which has had a tough few years. Superintendent Frank Sukup calls it a tribute to the district’s teaching staff.

“I have to give a lot of credit to these people,” he said. “They did not get down. It could have been easy to say, ‘Heck with it,’ and, ‘I don’t care,’ but it just shows the quality of people that we have in this system.”

The state released additional state report card data, including school and district ratings, Wednesday. The information comes nearly two months later than usual.

Some information came out last month, but ratings, Performance Index and attendance rates were held as the state auditor investigated allegations of data manipulation by some districts. The investigation continues, and the official report cards won’t be released until later. The investigation does not involve any local schools.

Twelve districts in the nine-county area moved up a designation, while 12 dropped. The rest maintained their designation.

The lowest rating went to Quest Academy in Academic Emergency. Lima schools dropped from Continuous Improvement to Academic Watch, and Upper Scioto Valley schools dropped from Effective to Academic Watch.

The rating didn’t surprise Lima school officials, who have been evaluating preliminary data since the beginning of the school year. Superintendent Jill Ackerman said principals and staff are already breaking down data.

“Everyone is under a tremendous amount of pressure, but they need to be and they recognize that they need to be,” she said.

Lima fell because it did not meet Adequate Yearly Progress, which measures success of pupil subgroups such as racial minorities, special education and economically disadvantaged.

A district that does not meet AYP for two consecutive years and is at Continuous Improvement or higher drops a designation. This is the case with Lima, but Ackerman said she believes it can meet it this school year. She said officials knew last year’s district restructuring would likely impact scores in the first year.

“We just have to stay focused,” she said. “We have to continue to know where every single individual kid is and where they need to go. And if we stay focused and stay on course, it is not going to be difficult now that we are settled.”

When coming to Upper Scioto Valley schools in May, Superintendent Dennis Recker started looking at data and working on curriculum, including using an existing staff person to work directly with teachers on designing lessons. Recker believes the hard work will pay off.

“Teachers are really working hard and they were devastated with these preliminary results,” he said. “I think we will start seeing the uptick in performance this year and after next year, the corner will be turned for these people.”

Five local districts are in Continuous Improvement, while 15 are Effective. Thirty-five are deemed Excellent, including every district in Putnam County.

St. Marys dropped to effective last year, missing indicators in fifth-grade math and eighth-grade science. The school picked those back up this year and moved back to Excellent.

“It is important. It makes the school feel good about itself and obviously the community feel good about what the schools are doing,” Superintendent Shawn Brown said. “It is our report card and when the state says we are doing an excellent job, we are proud to have them say that.”

Delphos was joined by six other districts in the region to earn Excellent with Distinction ratings. Shawnee earned the rating for the second year and New Knoxville moved up from Excellent.

Sukup said Delphos staff members were ecstatic with its results, saying it shows that their hard work paid off.

“I am just extremely proud to be part of this fine organization,” he said. “I think they are prepared to continue to do the hard work necessary to achieve as good as we can get.”

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