By Janie Southard
Marion Local school district improved its ranking on the state report card issued by the Ohio Department of Education on Tuesday to an excellent rating, only one point off a perfect score of 18.
Last year the district was rated in the effective category, only one point from an excellent.
District Superintendent Andy Smith said he's proud of the effort his staff and students have put forth, but he believes the complex state testing is going overboard.
"State tests are going to become more and more complex and difficult to understand. I think accountability is a good thing, but we're going to extremes," Smith told The Daily Standard on Tuesday afternoon.
The superintendent called the battery of state tests "a snapshot of what kids did on a certain day in a given year." "One year our fourth-graders did poorly on a math, but that test was given the morning after a regional tournament and they got home late," he said.
St. Marys City Schools holds the dubious honor of lowest rating (meeting 11 of the possible 18 performance standards established by the state), a situation newly hired Superintendent Ken Baker inherited.
"It's difficult to comment until I've had the opportunity to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the district; however, this gives us more available information to do that," said Baker, who came from a school district near Cincinnati that never scored below excellent on state tests.
Parkway district brought its ranking up to effective from continuous improvement, and Superintendent Doug Karst said he's happy but not satisfied.
"There's one higher rating and that's what we're shooting for," he said.
Karst believes the district's teachers have become more and more conscious of what's on the tests and what the standards are.
"We've got a lot of younger kids in accelerated reading so we can make sure they're ready to answer the questions correctly," Karst said.
Celina district maintained its effective rating, but did not pass the average yearly progress (AYP) measurement for the second consecutive year. The AYP is an average score of all students taking the tests, including those identified as having disabilities.
"We have work to do to meet the AYP, as do most schools. We've been impacted by our identified handicapped students, but we have methods in place to improve our planning and assessment with that population of students," Superintendent Fred Wiswell said.
"We'll look at areas where AYP was not met and revise our continuous improvement plan," he continued.
Of the nine school districts in The Daily Standard readership area, four tallied perfect scores: Coldwater, St. Henry, Minster and New Bremen. Minster and St. Henry also had perfect scores last year.
Fort Recovery and Marion Local schools were only one point below a perfect 18.
The district report cards are available to the public at all schools or on the Ohio Department of Education Web site at www.ode.state.oh.us/.