While complete state report card rankings for the 2012-2013 school year have not yet been released by the Ohio Department of Education, Bexley City Schools Superintendent Mike Johnson told board of education members last week, "As a school district, we've never performed higher."
ODE officials released preliminary data earlier this month, giving districts a peek at anticipated results from the latest state report card, which covers last year's academic performance. Johnson, in turn, shared those results with school board members last week.
Districts across the state are concerned that under the new state report card, their overall scores will fall despite performance levels among students which continue to climb.
Under the new system, districts will be given a letter grade, similar to those that students receive, replacing the current ratings of excellent, effective, continuous improvement, academic watch and academic emergency. New calculations also will come into play, affecting the overall score on districts' report cards.
While Bexley has enjoyed a ranking of "excellent with distinction" for more than a decade, Johnson fears the district will not fare as well on the new state report card -- despite a continued stellar performance by students.
Johnson spoke about the latest information received from the ODE -- the 2012-2013 Performance Index Score and the number of state indicators met.
The PI score has a relatively short history on the state report card and provides an overall indication of how well students perform on the Ohio Achievement Tests in grades three through eight and the Ohio Graduation Test in grade 10.
The tests have five performance levels -- limited, basic, proficient, accelerated and advanced. The PI score is calculated by multiplying the percentage of students at each performance level by predetermined weights. The totals are then summed up in the school or district's PI score. A score of 120 is perfect.
In order to receive an A in this category under the new system, a district must score a 90 percent or higher, or reach a score of at least a 108 out of the 120 possible points.
Under the new calculations, Johnson said Bexley is close, with a score of 106.2 points -- a B, according to the state. Johnson pointed out that despite the B label, this is the highest score the district has received to date.
One factor contributing to the increase is a new category added for the most current report card, "Advanced Plus."
According to the ODE, schools and districts are now being rewarded for having students on a Formal Acceleration Plan where the student passes over a grade and takes an assessment that is in a higher grade than the student's overall grade: for example, if a fifth-grader takes a sixth-grade math class and thus takes the sixth-grade math OAA.
This process will increase the performance level of an accelerated student who scores proficient or higher by one performance level for the performance index calculation.
So, if the student scored at the "Advanced" performance level, his or her level would be increased to the new category of "Advanced Plus" for the purpose of calculating the performance index. The new "Advanced Plus" category will be given a weight of 1.3 points.
Regardless of the district's overall designation by the state, students in Bexley continue to perform at higher levels each year, Johnson said. In fact, student testing in the 2005-2006 school year earned them 104.1 points for their PI score.
That number climbed to 104.8 in the 2009-2010 school year, topping out at an overall high last year of 106.2.
Johnson also said the district met all 24 academic indicators on the preliminary 2012-2013 state report card, earning an A in that category.
Final report cards, which typically come out in August, have not yet been released by ODE.