Hilliard Superintendent John Marschhausen said the results of the Ohio Department of Education's state report card released Aug. 22 "will not define" Hilliard schools and are only one factor district officials consider in their continuing effort to improve.
Hilliard earned five A's, two B's and two D's in the nine graded categories on the reformatted state report card.
For the past five years, Hilliard received the highest possible grade of "Excellent with Distinction."
Now, the ODE is issuing letter grades for individual criteria, creating what state officials say is a more accurate barometer of the effectiveness of a district's education relative to individual students. Districts will not receive overall letter grades until 2015, according to the ODE.
The new report card format also includes more value-added categories, which measure the amount of progress students achieve in one school year.
Hilliard earned an A on the overall value-added measurement, which means that overall, the district's students made more progress -- about two years' worth -- than expected in one school year.
The three subgroups graded in the value-added category received an A, B and D.
The value-added measurement for gifted students earned the D.
The A and B were for the lowest 20 percent of students in achievement and for students with disabilities, respectively.
Other A's and a B
Hilliard earned its other A's for meeting all 24 of the state's performance indicator standards and its two measured graduation rates.
The performance indicators measure the proficiency level of students taking state-mandated tests at different grade levels. These include proficiency tests for third- through eighth-graders and the Ohio Graduation Tests for 10th- and 11th-graders.
A 75-percent minimum proficiency rate for students was required for this report card. Next year, the rate will be 80 percent, according to the ODE.
As for graduation rates, Hilliard's four-year rate was 93.8 percent and its five-year rate was 95.2 percent.
The district's performance-index score, which rates the annual progress of all students, was 103.6, a B grade.
The district received a less-than-average grade of D for its "gap-closing" measurements, which are called annual measurement objectives in the new report card format.
The metric is similar to, but not the same as, the adequate yearly progress measurement in the old report card format.
According to the ODE, the annual measurement objectives determine the academic performance of up to 10 specific racial and demographic groups of students in reading, math and graduation rates. Subgroups with fewer than 30 students are not rated.
The annual measurement objectives differ from AYP because each of the groups is compared against the collective performance of all students in Ohio, and a grade is assigned for efforts to close achievement gaps in all groups.
A district cannot get an A if one of its groups is not reaching the percent proficiency goal set for all students.
On this year's report card, the minimal proficiency levels were 83.4 percent for reading, 78.5 percent for math and 75.9 percent for graduation rate.
Five Hilliard subgroups fell below the standard for reading: economically disadvantaged students (79.9 percent); African American students (79 percent); Hispanic students (77.8 percent); limited-English students (71.7 percent); and students with disabilities (64.4 percent).
The same five subgroups also fell below the standard for math: economically disadvantaged students (76.6 percent); Hispanic students (76.6 percent); African American students (72.8 percent); limited-English students (70.7 percent); and students with disabilities (56.7 percent).
Students with disabilities (73 percent) and limited-English students (65.6 percent) were below the standard for graduation rate.
Assessing the report card
Had the state used the same formulas as last year, Hilliard would have received another "Excellent with Distinction" rating, district officials said.
Marschhausen and Susanne Lintz, director of data and accountability for Hilliard City Schools, said because this is the first year the ODE has used new formulas to assign grades, there is no true apples-to-apples comparison to past practices and results.
"Are some of these results an anomaly, or something that needs more focus? I think that will be learned during the course of the year," Marschhausen said.
He said while the report card is "one tool to evaluate" a district, no rating system is perfect, and state report cards "can't tell the complete story of a student's educational experience (or) define the effectiveness of our educators."
Marschhausen said he understands the state school board's desire to make a grading system that is more accessible to parents, but it also "presents a challenge" for districts to adapt to state mandates while meeting the needs of the community and the expectations of parents.
"It used to be that local boards of education made all the decisions, but now there state mandates. ... It's a balancing act," Marschhausen said.
He said he welcomes the opportunity to discuss the results of the state report card with parents and community leaders in the coming months.
"Hilliard City Schools has never sat still and said 'this is good enough,' " Marschhausen said. "We are leading the way by making sure students are ready ... for higher education and the jobs of tomorrow."
To view full results from the new state report card, visit reportcard.education.ohio.gov.