For the first time, Delaware City Schools has been rated "excellent with distinction" on its annual report card from the Ohio Department of Education, jumping two notches from the district's 2009-2010 rating of "effective."

For the first time, Delaware City Schools has been rated "excellent with distinction" on its annual report card from the Ohio Department of Education, jumping two notches from the district's 2009-2010 rating of "effective."

Delaware met 26 of 26 indicators and had a performance index score of 100.3. The performance index rewards individual student achievement on a weighted basis up to a possible 120 points.

District Superintendent Paul Craft said this year's report card rating is part of the upward trajectory the district has taken since the report card's introduction in 2000.

"What you see is a steady path of improvement and a big jump here, but it's just the continuation of what has been a continued run of improvement," Craft said.

Only 14 percent of Ohio school districts earned the "excellent with distinction" rating this year. In order to achieve the state's top rating, districts must meet a high number of indicators and achieve a high Performance Index number. Its students must show at least one-year's worth of academic growth, which is known as its value-added rating.

Delaware students showed more than a year's worth of progress on average, said Amy Piacentino, director of curriculum and programming.

Piacentino attributes the higher test scores to the faculty and staff's dedication.

"Obviously, we've spent a lot of time really looking at the data and talking about what we feel our students need and how to meet those needs," Piacentino said.

"In order to get that value added rating, you really have to meet the needs of every student."

During the last decade, the district has worked to develop a more rigorous curriculum and has increased professional development regarding assessments and using innovative teaching practices, Piacentino said.

In addition, each building has a leadership team that meets regularly to discuss student progress and share best practices.

"Probably the biggest thing that we've done is to sit around the table and roll up our sleeves and look at students and where they are and where we want them to be," Piacentino said.

"Everyone has been really dedicated to that task - administrators, teachers, staff members, support staff and parents," she said.

Overall, the district met the adequate yearly progress standards of the No Child Left Behind Act.

AYP standards measure reading and math scores in a variety of student groups, such as students with disabilities and various ethnic groups. The federally set AYP goals increase every school year.

Delaware City Schools students didn't meet 2010-2011 AYP in six areas: reading proficiency, economically disadvantaged, multiracial, individual education plans, and limited English proficient.

Piacentino and Craft acknowledged that in spite of this year's stellar rating, there is still room for Delaware City Schools to improve.

"Our kids deserve the best education we can possibly provide for them," Craft said.

"We want to make sure when our kids leave our schools they're ready to take on whatever they want to do in the world."

Two Delaware schools - Willis Intermediate School and Schultz Elementary School - earned an "excellent with distinction" rating.

The rest of Delaware's schools earned "excellent" ratings.

For more on district and school building report cards, visit ilrc.ode.state.oh.us/schools.