Although the school report card grades released Thursday by the Ohio Department of Education are lower than many in Fulton County have become accustomed to, that does not mean the quality of education in the area has decreased.
Wauseon Exempted Village Schools, for example, received a C grade in Achievement on the report card, but improved on the majority of indicators.
“While nearly all of the districts in the area will see lower report card letter grades, our district matched or improved on 17 out of the 23 performance indicators from the previous year,” said Wauseon Superintendent Larry Brown. “I am especially proud of the report card ratings related to value-added reporting. We realized more than one year’s growth in learning in the areas of lowest 20 percent of our population, gifted students and overall student population.”
The majority of districts in Fulton County received C grades for Achievement.
There have been several changes to report cards from several years ago, when schools used to receive designations such as excellent and effective. Also, districts must now have 80 percent of students score proficient to meet indicators for tests, when it was previously 75 percent for the most part.
Overall, Brown and many other school leaders throughout the state say the report cards are just one way to judge a district.
“Wauseon Exempted Village Schools will utilize the recently released 2016-2017 district report card data as one of many reports necessary to accurately evaluate the areas of academic improvement for our students,” Brown said. “I am proud of the efforts of the students, parents and staff members of the Wauseon school community.”
Swanton Superintendent Chris Lake agreed.
“We use the data from these reports to help us make curricular decisions, but I feel that state report cards are just one guidepost to measure what we are doing,” said Lake, who became Swanton’s superintendent in late July. “Schools are responsible for so much more than just teaching these days.”
He added that the real measures of success for a school district are things that do not show up on a state report card.
“There is no way to report on the countless hours devoted to helping students who are dealing with difficult life situations, the time spent helping kids to choose their path in life, the teachers, counselors, administrators and coaches who lose sleep over kids that they feel are their own,” Lake said. “In other words, no report card that wants to turn a profession that is based on interpersonal relationships into a spreadsheet of statistics can ever truly measure the value of a school.”
Lake said that, overall, the district’s report card was pretty good, with areas of improvement over the last three years.
“For example, our four year graduation rate is up by 12 percentage points from the previous year,” he said. “To me this is one of the most important indicators because our goal is make sure kids get their Swanton diplomas. Our gap closing score is greatly improved and so is our value added score and our K-3 literacy score is up.”
He said that Swanton is holding steady in most of the other areas. “As a district we will continue to strive to make improvements in all areas,” said Lake. “I am just starting to begin the process of comparing our scores to area districts, but so far I am seeing that we compare favorably.”
Pike-Delta-York Superintendent Ted Haselman said there were many examples of growth and gains for the district in the report card. Among those cited were an increase in improvement as shown in the district’s Performance Index and the Value Added measure which increased to an A this year from a C in the previous report card.
“While the ODE Report Card is important and a measurement tool of our school, we know it is not the end-all, be-all measurement,” he said. “We know we do so much more at PDY than what can be reported on a district report. We are, and should be, proud of what we do.”
Districts and schools were graded on six components for the 2016-2017 school year. The components are Achievement, Progress, Gap Closing, Graduation Rate, K-3 Literacy, and Prepared for Success. Districts and schools received A-F grades on each of the six components and most of the individual measures. This is the last year without an overall letter grade for districts.
More detailed results are available on the Ohio Department of Education website at http://reportcard.education.ohio.gov/.
Reach Drew Stambaugh at 419-335-2010