While Groveport Madison students are getting back into the challenging routine of classes, studying and tests, school administrators are similarly being challenged to improve the district's grades.
The redesigned state report card issued Aug. 22 by the Ohio Department of Education now gives letter grades in various categories, replacing the old "excellent," "effective" or "continuous improvement" ratings system.
State officials say the letter grades are meant to be more in line with what students receive and thus more meaningful to parents, teachers and administrators.
Groveport Madison schools met 12 of 24 state standards to score 58.3 -- a D -- for the 2012-13 school year and 91.8 for a performance index grade of C. The performance index category measures the achievement of all students enrolled for a school year.
The district received a D for both its four-year and five-year graduation rates.
The district earned an overall value-added grade of A; its grades in three subcategories of value-added measurements were a D for gifted students, a B for lowest 20 percent in achievement and a C for students with disabilities. The district's gap-closing score was an F.
District Superintendent Bruce Hoover said he believes the new state report card "represents the story of our district's continuous improvement efforts. It highlights our concerns about our students' lack of readiness in early-learning programs and college preparedness."
Under the previous rating system, the Groveport Madison district received an overall "effective" rating for 2012.
Hoover said the district's progress ratings provided some good news, particularly the A in value-added, which measures how much academic progress students make in a school year.
"The report also illustrates the value-added success we have shown in growing the achievement of our students above the state-expected levels of annual growth," he said. "It is important to not interpret individual areas separately, but instead look at the graded areas as a composite of our district's ability to meet the demands and diversity of our learning community."
The new report card system will eventually provide each school with an overall grade in each of the four primary categories, along with an overall district grade, but that won't happen until 2015. Also by 2015, the four primary categories will expand to six, adding K-3 literacy and a prepared for success category.
State officials said they want to have two years to better understand the data before providing the overall grades.
"This is not meant as a 'gotcha' but instead means the schools need to work toward the new, higher standards we've set out," State Superintendent of Schools Richard Ross said in a press conference before the report card results were posted.
Hoover said the district will continue to improve in all areas moving forward.
"We will continue to commit our resources and energies to give our families the best educational opportunities that we can afford," he said. "We are dedicated to growing all of our students and making every student understand why it's great to be a Cruiser."
As a partner to school districts, the Columbus Metropolitan Library announced it would implement two new initiatives this fall to assist students and teachers.
The CML will deliver library materials directly to elementary schools for students and will provide them with a new "Kids Card" that grants elementary school students the ability to check out three children's books without incurring fines or needing a parent's signature.