Dublin Villager

Axner reflects on time as Dublin schools superintendent


When looking back on his tenure as Dublin City School District superintendent, it's not difficult for David Axner to pinpoint one of his biggest accomplishments.

Axner will leave the district in the fall to become associate executive director of the Ohio Association of Secondary School Administrators.

The bittersweet move has caused some recollection of goals and accomplishments, and closing the achievement gap in subgroups measured on the state report card is one of Axner's proudest moments.

"That's my biggest accomplishment," he said. "We led central Ohio for the past few years and I'm really proud of that fact."

Dublin City Schools has bested its own performance index score on the state report card the past few years, scoring a 107 out of 120 points on the most recent 2011-12 report card.

The state report card divides students into subgroups of American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian or Pacific Islander, Black, non-Hispanic, Hispanic, limited English proficient, multi-racial, students with disabilities and white non-Hispanic and measures the proficiency of the subgroups on state tests against the proficiency of all students to create the achievement gap.

According to information from the district, the achievement gap in math for Hispanic students has decreased by 10.5 percent over the past five years and the math achievement gap for African-American students has closed by 12 percent.

For example, on the 2010-11 state report card 71.4 percent of Hispanic students scored proficient or better in math compared to 65.2 percent on the 2009-10 report card.

In reading, the achievement gap has been lessened by 7 percent for Hispanic students and 6.2 percent for African-American students.

Programs such as Extended ELI, or Early Learning Intervention, have helped close the gap, Axner said.

The ELI program seeks to aid students who are behind their peers when they enter school in kindergarten. Some students might not speak English and others might need help with reading skills.

"We put resources into those kinds of areas," Axner said.

Axner also credits the work of principals with the closing of the achievement gap.

"What we instituted with the principals is they meet with the executive team and set goals," he said.

Through examining data from report cards, principals are able to set up goals that specifically meet the needs of their students, Axner said.

"They can schedule more time into reading or math," he said.

While Axner considers the decrease of the achievement gap his greatest accomplishment, he doesn't take sole credit and applauded the work of Jill Reinhart, director of literacy and English language learning, and other administrators.

"It's not just Dave Axner," he said.

The district will utilize the services of the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio to find a new superintendent.

The position is expected to be posted this month with interviews set for February and March.