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Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Area schools score high in state testing

By Amy Kronenberger
The Ohio Department of Education released partial state report cards to districts Wednesday after a month's delay.
The hold-up is due to a statewide investigation launched by state auditor Dave Yost after accusations of data tampering surfaced. The main issue appears to be whether low-performing students were removed from the rolls at some schools to improve those districts' performance rankings.
The results released this week - test scores, adequate yearly pro-gress, value-added growth and graduation rate - are not directly affected by Yost's inquiry, state officials say. The overall rankings - from excellent with distinction to academic emergency - were not released.
All schools in the Grand Lake area had test passage rates in the 80s to a perfect 100 percent. Every school except Parkway met or exceeded value-added growth.
Value-added growth affects students in grades 3-8 and measures their educational growth from one year to the next. A district can fail, maintain or exceed the expected growth. Parkway superintendent Greg Puthoff said he doesn't know why they didn't meet the standard.
"I can't figure out how we get our scores, and no one at the state can tell me," he said.
Puthoff said the elementary and middle schools individually met the expected growth, but the two combined as a district did not.
"That's what doesn't make sense to me, but that's just what happens," he said.
Despite the value-added rating, Puthoff said school officials are very happy with the other results, especially with their high test scores.
Celina is the only district to exceed value-added growth.  
"It's fantastic," curriculum director Curt Shellabarger said. "And if you go by the ... rating system, that's what determines an excellent versus an excellent with distinction rating."
Several schools in the area did not meet their adequate yearly progress rating, including Celina, Fort Recovery, St. Henry and St. Marys.
Shellabarger said adequate yearly progress is a result of the No Child Left Behind legislation and involves minority students based on race and special needs. A group needs at least 30 students to qualify. Celina has two groups, special needs students and those on the free or reduced lunch program.
"AYP takes a look at how many students pass the (progress) test," he said. "A certain percent needs to pass the test, and we did not reach that percentage."
Shellabarger said officials will keep working with teachers to improve next year's score.
Official state test results and overall ratings are expected in January.
St. Marys superintendent Shawn Brown said having to wait for the results can be frustrating and delay any work on needed improvements.
"We continue to do what we do anyway to meet our goals and help the students improve, but by making us wait, we won't know where we need to improve," he said. "Finding out in January really puts us behind the eight ball of improving anything yet this (school) year."
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