Thursday, February 28th, 2013
By Amy Kronenberger
State grades local schools
Celina district earns top score; most rated excellent
  Celina City Schools is the only district in the Grand Lake area to receive an excellent with distinction rating on the state report card for the 2011-2012 school year.
The Ohio Department of Education released the cards today. Celina was the only local district to exceed expectations in value-added growth, which measures the educational growth from one year to the next of students in grades K-8.
Parkway Local School, which did not meet its value-added growth, saw its overall rating drop to effective despite performing well in every other indicator. All other districts in the Grand Lake area received an excellent rating.
Even if a district receives the highest possible test scores and meets all indicators, it will still miss out on the highest rating - excellent with distinction - if it hasn't shown enough growth over the previous two years, Celina superintendent Jesse Steiner said.
"With distinction is an interesting ranking," he said. "You can have districts that have very high performance marks but don't get it because they are not growing."
Coldwater superintendent Rich Seas said he's OK with not receiving the distinction mark. He believes the state should focus on growth, noting a district should be measured by how much a student learned and grew academically in a year.
"You have to set the bar higher each year and challenge the kids every step of the way," he said. "That's achievement; that's the mark. It's great that we reached all the indicators ... But you have to take them at that mark and push them. You gotta push them; you gotta grow them."
In order to set the bar even higher, Seas said the community and parents will need to be even more involved.
"I think we already do have very supportive parents and great family structures here and our good scores show that," he said. "But if we're going to raise the bar and keep challenging our kids, we're going to need more support from somewhere."
Parkway Superintendent Greg Puthoff has said he doesn't know why the district 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 previously.
Puthoff was away from the district this morning and unavailable for comment.
He previously 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.
All schools in the Grand Lake area had test passage rates in the 80s to a perfect 100 percent. Also, all districts reached and exceeded the state goal of 100 points out of 120 points on the performance index.
Every school in the area scored higher than the state average of meeting 21 of 26 indicators, which deal with proficiency testing. Celina and New Bremen met 25, while all others earned a perfect 26. Several schools in the area did not meet their adequate yearly progress rating, including Celina, Fort Recovery, St. Henry and St. Marys.
Celina curriculum director Curt Shellabarger has 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 has said. "A certain percent needs to pass the test, and we did not reach that percentage."
Statewide, only two districts were placed on academic emergency. Eleven districts are on academic watch, five more than in the previous school year. The number of schools designated with excellent with distinction jumped from 316 to 468.
Other ratings include excellent, effective and continuous improvement.
The release of the report cards was delayed six months due to a statewide investigation launched by state auditor Dave Yost after accusations of data tampering surfaced.
Yost's review found that nine districts removed poor-performing students from their rolls in attempts to improve performance ratings that can impact federal funding and employee bonuses. No districts in the area were involved in the investigation.
Minster superintendent Brenda Boeke said her district and other districts' successes come at a time when teachers and administrators are adjusting core curriculum.
"Our teachers are implementing new learning standards, our students will be taking new, online assessments and the district report cards will change accordingly," she said.
The state has said it will replace its current report card rating system with an A-F letter grade system to reflect the tougher standards being implemented. Next year's report cards also will be based more on the readiness of graduating students for college and careers, state officials have said.

go online @:
To view all school district report cards, go to www.ode.state.oh.us.
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