Wednesday, August 26th, 2009
By Janie Southard
Seven local districts get low grades from state in social studies
  Seven of the nine local school districts struggled with the social studies achievement tests last school year as did the rest of the state, according to the 2008-09 school year report cards released Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Education.
The state requires as least 75 percent of students pass the social studies test in fifth and eighth grades. Only 51.9 percent of Ohio's eighth-graders passed the test and only 61.6 percent of the state's fifth-graders passed.
In the Celina school district, the entire fifth grade struggled in all achievement areas (reading, math, science and social studies). The school did not meet the 75 percent passage rate in a single area.
All districts received preliminary report card data a few months ago, which enabled Celina Superintendent Matt Miller and the board of education to make adjustments for the current school year.
"I know our teachers work really hard in matching instruction to the state standards. But sometimes what you're hired in to teach is perhaps not the best for you," Miller said Tuesday afternoon. "We have made adjustments in staffing to match teacher strength to students needs."
As to the social studies failure rate statewide, the Ohio Department of Education has suspended social studies achievement tests for the next two years. As well, ODE has eliminated fourth and seventh grades writing tests.
Three of the nine districts met all 30 of the state's indicators - Coldwater, Marion Local and Minster - and received the designation excellent with distinction.
The 30 indicators are based on: student passage rates for achievement test in grades 3-8; the number of students passing the Ohio Graduation Test; meeting or exceeding the 90 percent requirement of students graduating; and meeting or exceeding the 93 percent attendance rate requirement.
Celina City Schools and Parkway Local School both met 24 of 30 indicators, earning them effective designations. St. Marys met 28 of the 30 and got an excellent designation. New Bremen with 29 indicators also received an excellent.
Receiving designations excellent with distinction with 29 indicators were Fort Recovery and St. Henry.
Along with the 30 indicators, the report cards include a Performance Index, which is based on how well each individual student does on all tested subjects in grades 3-8 and the 10th-grade Ohio Graduation Test. Students can receive any of five performance levels: advanced, accelerated, proficient, basic and limited.
Value Added Measure is the new kid on the report card, added in 2003. It's a knowledge-gained factor. Even if a student did not pass the test, it measures whether he or she has improved since the last opportunity to take the test. It's calculated for grades 4-8 in reading and mathematics. Results for the district are listed as above expected growth, met expected growth and did not meet one year of expected growth.
Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) is a federally required measure. Districts must meet reading and math proficiency and participation goals as well as test participation, attendance rate and graduation rate. Goals are established for all students as well as several minority groups such as black, economically disadvantaged, students with disabilities, limited English, etc.
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