Delaware City School District leaders' high expectations were confirmed last week with the delayed release of state report cards.
As predicted last year, the district received the state's top rating: "excellent with distinction."
Over the past 11 years, the district has gone from the second-lowest rating of "academic watch" to the highest.
Superintendent Paul Craft received the preliminary report card months ago, but said he's excited it's finally official for the entire community to see.
"This is great news for us to have again," Craft said. "We know we are doing the right things for our kids."
After several school districts, including Columbus City Schools, were accused of altering records last year, Ohio districts were under close scrutiny by the Ohio Department of Education and community members to ensure they were not following suit.
Craft said Delaware residents can rest assured the district's records are accurate.
"We know we're doing the right thing and the state auditor agrees with us," he said.
Craft said he is most pleased to see "with distinction" at the end of the district's rating. He attributed the achievement to the "value added" component of the report card, which measures how well students are learning as they advance.
"The value added component means that we are moving our kids farther in one year than the average kid in another district," he said.
Craft said if a student takes a test in third grade, then takes the same test in fourth grade, and all those scores are measured on a chart, an upward trend indicating students' improvement would be evident.
The same chart compared to those from other districts would show Delaware is doing a better job than the average district at advancing students, Craft said.
"Schultz Elementary School, for example, has been consistently moving their kids further than the average district for the past five years," he said.
Craft said there isn't a better metric for measuring a district's effectiveness than the value added component.
"It doesn't matter if our students are English-proficient, economically disadvantaged or have doctors for parents -- the data shows that these kids are all moving forward regardless," he said.
Next year, the stakes will be higher as the Ohio Department of Education ups the grades it expects on standardized tests from 75 percent to 80 percent.
Craft said he's not concerned about that, because the data show the majority of Delaware students will meet the 80-percent goal.
There are areas the district will focus on to improve in light of the data released by the state, Craft said. Fifth- and seventh-grade math scores were lower than last year and need to be improved, he said.
Although overall graduation rates were up, graduation rates for students who are economically disadvantaged and students with disabilities were lower than last year.
"We have access to more data than we've ever had before, and we will be analyzing it in order to adapt our curriculum to make sure we are meeting the needs of all our students," Craft said.