Licking County News

Southwest Licking

District uses state report card to find areas of weakness

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Southwest Licking administrators and teachers are taking the low marks the school district achieved on the state report card very seriously, said board Vice President Deb Moore.

“They’re hitting it hard,” Moore said.

The Ohio Department of Education now issues 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.

While Southwest Licking received an A on its performance indicators in the most recent report card released Aug. 22, it suffered on value-added measurements, receiving D’s for overall scoring and gifted students, a C for disabled students and a B for the lowest 20 percent of students.

Moore said there’s a good chance the state will change the way it rates value-added results in the future.

“We have fundamental things we need to work on, regardless of what the state says,” Moore said.

Assistant Superintendent Kasey Rathburn told the board Sept. 19 the administration and teachers are focusing on fifth- and sixth-grade math and fourth-grade reading, all of which received lower marks for progress.

“One of our struggles is math,” Rathburn said.

She said the district ordered a new math program for grades 3-8.

“It offers differentiated opportunities for all levels of learners,” she said.

The new program pushes upper-level math students, as well as those who struggle, she said.

Rathburn said kindergarten through eighth-grade teachers are attending Common Core State Standards math training, as well, and working with a consultant from outside the district.

Additionally, elementary school teachers are doubling their students’ math training.

Rathburn said teachers and administration were aware the district was struggling in areas of math instruction before the state report cards were released, so some of the instructional improvements were already in motion.

Rathburn said fourth-grade reading progress was down in Kirkersville and Pataskala elementary schools.

She said reading intervention was added last year and this year, all kindergarten through fifth-grade students will receive reading intervention.

Additionally, Rathburn said, the district will provide teachers with supplemental training in requested subjects.

Rathburn said the additional training will help teachers challenge higher-level learners, as well as aid special education students.

Rathburn said parts of the new math program will be online and interactive for students.

“That’s how kids are learning these days,” she said.

Rathburn said now that the district is providing intensive supplemental training for teachers and students, “I do anticipate we’ll see improvement in next year’s grade card.”

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