Director of curriculum and instruction Kristi Thompson congratulated Pataskala Elementary School for being the first building in the Southwest Licking School District to earn the top state report card rating, "excellent with distinction."

Director of curriculum and instruction Kristi Thompson congratulated Pataskala Elementary School for being the first building in the Southwest Licking School District to earn the top state report card rating, "excellent with distinction."

The rating capped the district's overall "excellent" status, one step above the "effective" rating earned by the district for the past seven years. "Excellent" also is the second-highest rating given by the Ohio Department of Education, which released the official state report card results Aug. 24.

"Pataskala Elementary met eight out of eight performance indicators," Thompson said, noting that the building also performed well in the other three measures used by the report card: the performance index, adequate yearly progress (AYP) and value-added rating.

To achieve "excellent with distinction," a district or building must meet all the performance indicators and achieve greater than average growth in student performance for two years.

For districts, there are 26 indicators, including a 75-percent proficient performance in math, reading, science, writing and social studies at various grade levels.

Southwest Licking met 25 of the 26 indicators. The only indicator missed by the district was fifth-grade math, where 71.4 percent of students scored proficient, below the 75-percent minimum and down from the 76 percent scored last year.

In addition to the count of gross indicators, the state also examines the percentage of students who are proficient, accelerated and advanced, generating a performance-index score with a theoretical maximum of 120. The district performance index this year was 99.8, up from 97.6 last year.

Other components of the district and building ratings include AYP, a term under the federal No Child Left Behind Law that requires districts to measure student performance in population subcategories including special needs, English as a second language, economically disadvantaged and various ethnic categories.

Federal law mandates that 100 percent of students be proficient in each AYP category by 2014, three years from now, but also allows "safe harbor" and other measures of satisfying the AYP requirement, if the district is able to reduce its failure rate each year.

"Everyone says the goal (of 100 percent proficient) is unattainable, but if you look at the data each year, maybe you can," Thompson said.

Thompson said she believed technology and teacher training contributed to the improved performance on the report card.

"The professional development we have offered in the district has changed the way we're teaching," Thompson said. "We've increased the amount of development opportunities."

Among the important tools used by the district is a "Scantron" assessment that allows teachers to obtain "formative" assessment data of student performance. Formative data is not used to grade students, but is instead used to identify students who performing below standards so that individual intervention can be provided.

"We're really starting to dig into our data," Thompson said.

Thompson said she believed technology also helps boost scores, partly because it makes teachers more productive, but also because students become more engaged because they enjoy using the technology.

For complete results of the state report card for the district and individual buildings, visit www.ode.state.oh.us.