Delaware City School District leaders say they're happy with the district's marks on the state's new report card, but that won't stop them from trying to improve.
Superintendent Paul Craft said he was pleased overall with the district's grades. The district met 23 of 24 state standards, earning an A in that category, and got a B in performance index, which measures the achievement of every student enrolled for the entire school year.
"My first takeaway is that all four Delaware County school districts would have again received ratings of 'excellent with distinction' had the old grade-card standards been in place," Craft said.
He the new ratings included previous legacy measures but added different looks at subgroup performances.
For example, Delaware earned an A overall in the value-added category, which measures how much progress students make over the course of a school year. In the value-added subcategories, however, grades ranged from a B for disabled students to an F for gifted students.
"Our subgroup ratings vary more broadly," Craft said. "A value-added grade of C means that students met expected growth in a year's time. The F on gifted is something we are especially going to spend time examining.
"The odd thing is that, based on our previous 2011-12 year's data, we would have received an A on that metric," he said. "Between that year and this year, we didn't change anything in how we serve our gifted students."
Craft said the new grade card makes it more challenging for diverse districts to receive high marks in all categories due to the natural variability among students.
"With some of the variability in the subgroup metrics, one of the challenges diverse districts like us will face is that with the number of students in a subgroup, just a few students not performing well on a single test on a single day can change a district's grade from an A to an F," he said.
Although the district received an F for the progress of its gifted students, Craft said those students received a B in their performance.
"Our gifted students are performing at an incredibly high rate," he said. "They are performing 15 points higher than the overall district's performance, but their growth measures are lower."
Craft said officials will begin looking at ways to tweak the gifted program in order to continue to move students forward.
Craft said he is most excited about the 2015 report card, which will include graduation rates and the SAT and ACT scores of graduating students to indicate students' college and career readiness.
"Our graduation rates are continuing to go up due to the work of (former Hayes High School Principal) Brad Faust and his team at Hayes and what (current Principal) Ric Stranges' team will continue to do this year," he said.
Although Craft said he was happy with the report card, he said he will resign before he says the district can't work harder to get better.
"We have to get better. Our kids don't deserve anything less," he said. "These report cards are just one more thing that will inform what we do."
He said one reason he loves the district and its staff is that they're always asking, "How can we do this better?"
"It's a thousand little things done right that will continue to help us improve," he said. "We will be tweaking things in all areas in order to move forward."