The number of Delaware City School District 10th-graders passing the most recent Ohio Graduation Test was 6.4 percent higher than last year.

The number of Delaware City School District 10th-graders passing the most recent Ohio Graduation Test was 6.4 percent higher than last year.

"That's a huge one-year change," Delaware City Schools superintendent Paul Craft said.

In the district, 72.1 percent of students scored at or above the proficiency level. Olentangy Local School District had a passing rate of 91 percent, followed by Big Walnut Local School District with 80.2 percent and Buckeye Valley Local School District with 80.1 percent. The results are for first-time test takers in the 10th grade.

Statewide, the average passing rate is 75 percent and about 69.5 percent of 10th-graders were proficient or above in all five categories.

Districts will have a chance to review this preliminary data for any inaccuracies, said Patrick Gallaway, media relations coordinator for the Ohio Department of Education. The data will be used for the formulation of the state-issued school district report cards. The data will be finalized in mid to late August, when the report cards are issued.

The final report card for a district or building is indicative of a student's performance, Gallaway said. The OGT and Ohio Achievement Assessment, standardized tests for third- to eighth-graders, and attendance and graduation rates are all factors included in the assessment. Performance index, which reflects the achievement of every student enrolled for the academic year, also is included.

The OGT tests students in five areas including reading, mathematics, writing, science and social studies. DCSD scored highest in writing, with a passing rate of 88.8 percent.

Seven students in last year's graduating class failed to graduate because of the OGT, Craft said.

Students have two times per junior year and two times per senior year to retest, Craft said. During junior and senior years, students also can take a special OGT class in August for another chance to retest. The cost to the district of the OGT classes, including staff and materials, is around $5,000 per year. Many students only have to retake one subject.

The district has performed at the bottom of the county for OGT results in the five areas of reading, mathematics, writing, science and social studies since 2005.

Craft said that upon entering the school system, students have varying levels of educational readiness. Thirty-eight percent of the students within the district qualify for free and reduced lunch. "We have a much more diverse community," he said.

The state's curriculum includes so many standards that it's difficult to prioritize, Craft said, which has been a criticism of standards around the country. This makes it challenging for students to prepare for the OGT, he said.

"We don't spend a lot of time even talking about the test. We spend our time talking about the curriculum," Craft said.

On a rotating basis, the district will compare its curriculum with the state's. Typically subjects are examined at least every four years. "We are actually going to look at all of our core curriculum classes over the course of the next year and a half as part of our participation in the Race to the Top initiative," Craft said.

The Ohio Department of Education's website describes Race to the Top as, "a competitive grant program designed to encourage and reward states that are creating the conditions for education innovation and reform." The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) allocated $4.35-billion for the program.

Craft said the district is waiting to receive its report card results in August.

The district's current report card, gives it an effective rating for 2010, meeting 24 out of 26 state indicators. Ranging from lowest to highest, the designation levels include academic emergency, academic watch, continuous improvement, effective, excellent and excellent with distinction. In the 1999-2000 school year, DCSD had a designation of academic watch. For the 2001-2002 school year, the district was rated continuous improvement and in 2005 reached effective.

In the 2004-2005 school year, the district met 14 out of 23 academic indicators, while in the 2009-2010 school year it met 24 out of 26. Craft said he hopes the district will earn an excellent rating for this school year, which requires that 25 out of 26 indicators be met.