Southwest Licking Local School District leaders were happily surprised when state report card showed the district had maintained its "effective" rating on the 2009-10 Ohio Department of Education report card.

Southwest Licking Local School District leaders were happily surprised when state report card showed the district had maintained its "effective" rating on the 2009-10 Ohio Department of Education report card.

"We did better than expected," said Kristi Thompson, the district's director of curriculum and instruction. "We've seen some growth, which is really exciting."

SWL met 23 out of 26 state indicators and had a record-high performance-index score of 97.6 out of 120.

Additionally, every school building except Watkins Memorial High School met federal adequate yearly progress standards, which measure student performance in each of 10 student subgroups.

That's a tremendous improvement from last year, when three student subgroups failed to meet AYP: economically disadvantaged, African-American and special education.

"That just speaks volumes for the work we're doing here," Thompson said.

Superintendent Forest Yocum said he's pleased with the results but the fact that federal AYP continues to hinder Southwest Licking's overall rating is frustrating.

"You can make 23 or 24 indicators and still be counted as a school with problems," he said. "There are schools that make (fewer) indicators than we achieved, and because of their AYP they're 'excellent.'"

Thompson attributed the district's success to teacher training and a new emphasis on technology use in the classroom.

"Formative and summative assessment training has really been effective," she said. "I think our professional development and the fact that the staff is really digging deep into our data and using that to inform instruction are helping us to individualize our (teaching)."

The three missed indicators on this year's district report card were seventh-grade math, with 73.6 percent of students scoring proficient or higher, and eighth-grade math and science, with 68.6 percent and 66.9 percent proficiency, respectively.

Watkins Middle School met five out of eight indicators, missing the mark by just 1.1 points in seventh-grade math and earning 68.4 percent in eighth-grade math and 67 percent in eighth-grade science. The school's performance index is 96 - up from 91.8 last year.

All other buildings met every indicator, with performance-index scores ranging from 97.8 at Pataskala Elementary School to 99.1 at Kirkersville Elementary School.

Yocum thanked the district's teachers for their hard work toward increasing student achievement.

"We have a very dedicated and a very talented staff," he said. "We're not happy that we didn't meet 26 out of 26, but we're very please that we've seen the improvement that we have, and we expect to see more."

LH dips a level from excellent to effective

The Licking Heights Local School District dropped one notch in the state report card ratings, but that doesn't mean the district isn't improving, Superintendent Thomas Tucker said.

Licking Heights, which the Ohio Department of Education rated "excellent" last year, has dropped one rating to "effective" on its 2009-2010 report card even though the district received a higher performance-index score and met four more indicators than last year.

"I think a lot of people are a little confused" about the report card rating, Tucker said.

Licking Heights met 24 of 26 indicators this year, compared to 20 of 26 last year, and the district was close to meeting 25 indicators, Tucker said. The only missed indicators on this year's report card were 10th-grade science, with 67.2 percent of students scoring proficient or higher, and eighth-grade science, with 73.2 percent - a mere 1.8 points away from the 75-percent level that the state requires.

The district's performance index, which measures student achievement on a weighted basis, was 95.4 out of a possible 120 points. Last year's performance index was 94.7.

Where Licking Heights failed to perform was in the federal measurement of adequate yearly progress, or AYP, which measures how well the 10 different student subgroups perform on math and reading standardize tests. All of the district's subgroups met AYP, except for students with disabilities.

Tucker said he doesn't blame students in that subgroup for missing the mark, though, and wouldn't even name the subgroup that didn't meet AYP.

"We don't point fingers. We don't point blame. We don't make excuses," Tucker said.

Overall, Tucker said, he is proud of the district's performance on the tests.

Licking Heights North, which houses fourth- and fifth-graders, scored "excellent with distinction" on the state report card. The school met all six indicators and earned a performance index of 95 - up from 94 last year.

Licking Heights South, for grades 2-4, earned an "excellent" rating for the third year in a row. The school met five of five indicators and had a performance index of 96.1.

Licking Heights Central, the district's middle school, met seven of eight indicators for the first time, Tucker said. Its performance-index score of 95.4 helped earn it an "effective" rating.

Licking Heights High School was rated "effective," meeting 11 of 12 indicators and having a performance index of 95.5 - down from last year's score of 97.8.

Tucker said the results would be used to tailor instruction in the coming year. "By this time next year, we'll have a lot to celebrate."