ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Understanding the new report cards issued statewide by the Ohio Department of Education is a bit more complicated this year as the state rolled out its new A-F report cards.
However, the reports go into greater detail and provide a better picture of just how a district overall, and its individual buildings, are performing.
Gone are the days of excellent, effective and continuous improvement designations
Similar now to a student's individual report card, the new state report cards take the scores generated by the standardized tests and formulate a letter grade for a multitude of categories.
"Everything is out there in the open," said Walt Skaggs, the superintendent for the St. Clairsville-Richland City school district. "Everything is broken out. There are individual grades for everything.
"Instead of lumping everything together, one school or one rank being excellent, effective, etc., there is a grade for everything."
Previously, a district's final designation was determined based off of the number of indicators met, a performance index score and a value-added score.
Now there are multiple categories that help determine a district's overall grade, along with numerous sub-categories.
The value-added scores look at students across the board for its main score, then breaks them down into sub sections like gifted students (math, reading or superior cognitive only), students with disabilities (all students who have an IEP that take the Ohio Achievement Assessments) and students in the lowest 20 percent of achievement statewide (based on distribution of scores for the entire state)
How many of the state's 24 indicators that are met is still measured. Now, it's just one category receiving a grade instead of playing such a prominent role in determining the overall score or rating a district receives.
St. Clairsville was the lone district in the area to receive an "A" on the number of standards it met, missing only two of the 24. But the district also received a "D" in value-added and a "C" in annual measurable objectives, which "measures the academic performance of specific groups of students, such as racial and demographic groups. Each of these groups is then compared against the collective performance of all students in Ohio."
The purpose is to help determine gaps in academic achievement between various groups of students.
"It's really geared more toward actual student growth now," Skaggs said. "From Point A to Point B, are they making adequate growth.
"Obviously, it's all new and we're just learning but it gives us info that we can use to improve our schools.
"It really forces you to look at the data and make decisions based on that data. I don't think it's a bad thing."
Detailed reports are also available for each school building in the district, with the elementary grades having different categories to examine than the higher grade levels.
It's providing a closer look at the schools performance in greater detail than before.
St. Clairsville's district received five "A's" overall, including: standards met, gifted value-added, disabled value-added and both the four and five year graduation rates.
But Skaggs noted, there is always to do better and that will remain the focus of his district.
"Our results are definitely encouraging," Skaggs said. "We've changed the way we do things as far as curriculum goes and have ramped up our professional development.
"Our staff and students worked real hard and we're proud of the effort everyone has given.
"There is always room for improvement."
To view the reports, head to education.ohio.gov and click on the link provided to view the results.
Hughes may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org