By Janie Southard
Four of the nine local school districts posted perfect scores on the Ohio Department of Education's district report cards for the 2004-2005 school year.
Coldwater, Marion Local, St. Henry and New Bremen met all 23 of the performance standards, as required under Ohio's obligation to the federal government's No Child Left Behind.
The Minster school district also scored an excellent with 22 standards met. The other three districts all scored effective ratings with Celina at 20, St. Marys, 16, and Parkway, 13.
The state ratings in descending order are excellent (22 or 23 indicators met), effective (18 to 21 met), continuous improvement (12 to 17 met), academic watch (8 to 11 met) and academic emergency (0 to 7 met).
Parkway's score of 13 falls in the continuous improvement designation; however, the district performance index was 91.5, which supersedes the number of standards met. St. Marys' ranking reflects the same situation, with a performance index of 95.2. The performance index assesses academic improvements made by each individual student.
Parkway Superintendent Doug Karst said the students who did well on the tests did very well, which brought up the average enough for the higher rating.
"We are obviously pleased to be an effective school, but we're not pleased with our (overall) test scores. We'll be looking at ways to improve," he said.
Twenty-one of the 23 indicators that schools must meet are based on students passing standardized tests in math, reading, science, writing, social studies and science. The other two indicators require schools to have a 90 percent graduation rate and 93 percent attendance rate.
Those indicators then are affected by the performance index; the growth calculation, which rewards any district improving its performance index by at least 10 points during two years; and adequate yearly progress (AYP), which rewards minority groups for improvement, such as students with disabilities, multi-racial, economically disadvantaged, etc.
Although the measurements are the same, not all schools are the same demographically.
"Although I realize people like to compare how St. Marys is doing compared to New Bremen and Minster, for example; but it's not an apples-to-apples comparison," St. Marys Superintendent Ken Baker said.
He noted that the Ohio Department of Education Web site provides a similar district comparison, which gives information about the 20 Ohio districts most similar to each other in terms of size, poverty level, number of professions, agriculture, etc. The district most similar to St. Marys is Clermont Northeastern Schools, near Cincinnati.
"But looking at St. Marys itself, we concentrated last year on reading, which is a good place to begin all improvements. We passed state standards in all our reading tests, and we're very proud of that. Next we'll look at math, then maybe science and finally get ourselves into a five-year rotation of subjects to focus on," Baker said.
St. Henry Superintendent Rod Moorman categorized his district as one that pulls everything together.
"I've worked in seven school districts and there was always a component missing, but not here. The students are quality. The staff is quality. The community is quality. And the parents are quality. Believe me it's a pleasure to work here," he said, pointing out this rating makes the fifth consecutive excellent, an accomplishment only outranked by New Bremen which has now tallied up their sixth consecutive excellent ranking.