Bexley City School District officials were pleasantly surprised Tuesday with the announcement of an "excellent with distinction" rating on the 2007-08 state report card.

Bexley City School District officials were pleasantly surprised Tuesday with the announcement of an "excellent with distinction" rating on the 2007-08 state report card.

This is the first year for the rating, which Bexley school board president Diane Peterson said is a lot like receiving an A+.

To receive an "excellent with distinction" rating, a district must receive an "above expected growth" rating for two years in a row on the Ohio Department of Education's value-added measurement.

ODE media-relations specialist Scott Black said statewide, 74 of the 610 state-rated districts achieved the "excellent with distinction" rating. In central Ohio, Pickerington, Dublin, Hilliard, New Albany-Plain Local, Olentangy, Granville and Upper Arlington earned the rating.

Peterson said the value-added measurement, which measures fourth- through eighth-graders' scores in reading and math, shows how the district has grown from year to year.

Value-added is measured with a plus, check or minus. The plus means students have grown beyond state expectations; a check means progress is at state standards; and a minus means progress is below the expected growth level.

According to results from the 2007-08 state report card, 45 percent of districts in the state exceeded expected growth, 23 percent met expected growth and 32 percent were below expected growth.

"The 'value-added' comes into play because even though they are performing at a high level, the question is whether they are experiencing a year's worth of growth," Peterson said.

Superintendent Michael Johnson, who commended the district's teachers for their work, said he is more pleased with the perfect rating on the adequate yearly progress (AYP) measurement, which the district also received last year.

"What that says to us is we are really serving the needs of all students in the district," he said.

Johnson said the value-added measurement shows the high standards of the district.

"Overall, our children got a year's worth of growth for a year's worth of education, which is what we expect," he said. "We exceeded our expectations."

He also said that with an excellent district, it is more difficult to continuously improve each year.

"This is a high-performing school district," Johnson said. "The continuous growth comes at a lot of effort. If you're high performing anyway, you can only run halfway to the wall before you hit the wall. It's a somewhat more different environment."

Curriculum director Anne Hyland said the distinction is something new for the district to consider.

"It's all new for us, too," she said. "If they hadn't done that (added the distinction), this would have still been the eighth year in a row we were rated 'excellent.' We're happy."