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The Daily



08-20-03: Learning is excellent at 5 schools
State grades Auglaize and Mercer districts


    Five of the nine area school districts earned excellent ratings on the 2002-2003 school district report cards issued Tuesday by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE).
    Minster, Fort Recovery, New Bremen, St. Henry and Coldwater brought home the top rating, with Celina and Marion Local scoring the next best, an effective rating. Parkway and St. Marys both scored in the continuous improvement rank. No local schools were rated in the bottom two rankings - academic watch or academic emergency.
    For the first time all district students were tested including students with disabilities, and those scores were calculated into the districts' totals. Also new in this year's ranking determination is a four-part grading system set up by the state.
    The four parts include state indicators, a performance index score, adequate yearly progress and a growth calculation.
    There are 22 state indicators and a school gets one point for each indicator it meets. Twenty of the 22 state indicators are based on the percentage of students who pass the fourth-, sixth- and ninth-grade proficiency tests. The other two are based on the district's graduation and attendance rates.
    The performance index score, in a nutshell, is how well students do on each of five proficiency test areas (citizenship, math, reading, writing and science) in grades four and six. A school gets points up to 120 based on how many students pass proficiency tests at below basic, basic, proficient or advanced levels.  
    In order for a school to meet adequate yearly progress, a certain percentage of students in 10 demographic groups (Hispanic, white, economically disadvantaged or students with disabilities, etc.) must meet proficient levels. These are the first district report cards that include state-mandated testing results for students with disabilities and limited English-speaking abilities.
    The growth calculation rewards schools on academic watch or academic emergency that have shown improvement by at least 10 points on the performance index score during two years. Those schools then move up a rating.
    In order to be rated an excellent school, districts must meet at least 21 of the state indicators and earn a 100-to-120-performance index score. Effective schools must meet at least 17 indicators and have 90-99 points on the performance index score. Excellent and effective schools must meet the adequate yearly progress grade within two years or their rating will be dropped.
    Continuous improvement schools are those which meet 11-16 state indicators and have a 80-to-89-performance index score.
    Parkway fourth-graders were below state standards (75 percent passage rate) on proficiency tests in three of five subject areas, as were sixth-graders. Additionally, the district's graduation rate of 86.8 percent did not meet the state minimum of 90 percent.
    Subject areas below state requirements on the fourth-grade test at Parkway were citizenship, math, and reading. Sixth-graders were below required numbers in math, reading and science.
    In St. Marys, fourth-graders failed to achieve state requirements in four of the five tested subject areas: citizenship, math, reading and science. They were one point above requirement in writing.
    Sixth-graders tested in St. Marys were below minimum standard in math, reading and science.
    Of the 608 statewide school districts, 85 received excellents, 177 were effective, 278 ranked in continuous improvement, 52 were in academic watch and 16 were in academic emergency.
    "While I'm gratified for the improvement we are seeing, the results show that not all of our children are achieving at high levels," Superintendent of Public Instruction at ODE Susan Tave Zelman said in a press release sent out Tuesday. "We still have wide gaps in academic performance among groups of students.
    Zelman said Ohio continues to show improvement over time and congratulated three major urban districts (Cleveland, Columbus and Youngstown) for moving out of academic emergency to academic watch.
    District report cards will not be sent to parents as in the past. According to ODE, a supply of report cards has been sent to each district. Parents may pick up a copy at the school or log onto www.ode.state.oh.us/reportcard.


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