Rocky Fork Enterprise

Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools

District seeks improvement via instructional coaches

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The Gahanna-Jefferson Public School District is ranked "excellent," as expected, on the 2011-12 state report card released by the Ohio Department of Education on Feb. 27.

District leaders aren't satisfied, though, so they're making changes for improvement.

Beth Spieth, G-J executive director of curriculum and instruction, said the district is pleased that all students met one year's growth, as indicated by the Value-added measure.

"But our goal next year will be to exceed more than one year's growth," she said. "Last fall, we were pleased students were all at one year's growth at a pace that's expected. Our goal districtwide is to be above that. We want to help students achieve more than one year's growth."

The district lost its "excellent with distinction" rating, the highest rating a district could achieve, because it didn't exceed on the Value-added indicator.

G-J met all 26 academic indicators, improved its performance-index score from 101.2 to 102 and met adequate yearly progress, meaning more district students are meeting the proficiency criteria, including all students and the sub-groups.

Spieth and Superintendent Francis Scruci said organizational changes are in the works that would allow the district to focus on each grade level and the data.

"There will be some restructuring in how to reallocate funds we're currently using," Scruci said. "We'll reallocate funds to different places. We'll put resources where we need to put them."

Part of that organizational change would place instructional coaches at each elementary school.

"Their roles will be defined, and they will work with principals and teachers to direct instruction to our students," Scruci said.

Although he said he's happy with student achievement, he's not satisfied with where the district is.

"I've talked to the board about reaching a plateau," Scruci said. "We were growing, and we had to make cuts. When you plateau, you tend to have a drop because everyone else is getting better. We have to refocus because we need to move back to an upper climb."

He said the district would break the curriculum into smaller parts and focus.

"We'll keep working hard," he said. "We'll drill down to the basics and get to the root of what the data is saying based on individual needs of students."

The release of the 2011-12 state report card was scheduled in August, but it was delayed by the State Board of Education because of an ongoing investigation by state Auditor David Yost into allegations of data manipulation by some school districts.

The Ohio Department of Education released preliminary data Oct. 17.

For final state report cards by district and building, go online to reportcard.ohio.gov.

Starting in the fall, the state will begin a transition to a new reporting system that will include an A-F grading system.

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