Official report-card results from the Ohio Department of Education were made available Monday, and a few new indictors might be a little confusing to some.

Official report-card results from the Ohio Department of Education were made available Monday, and a few new indictors might be a little confusing to some.

Although the federal No Child Left Behind laws set the bar higher every year, the state added its own school-district rating and indicator to measure student progress.

The state rated districts for the new "value-added" indicator last year, but results were omitted from the 2006-07 report card. Report cards from 2007-08 carry a value-added rating for the first time. Value-added is used in grades 4-8 to measure yearlong progress in math and reading.

According to ODE, value-added "recognizes that districts and schools may be making significant academic improvement in the performance of their students even though they may have not met the standard for student achievement. Whereas achievement scores demonstrate a student's level of proficiency at one point in time, the valued-added measure reflects how much progress was made since the prior year."

The progress of students in math and reading is measured with a plus, check or minus. The plus means students have grown beyond state expectations; a check means progress is at state standards; and a dash means progress is below the expected growth level.

According to results from the 2007-08 state report card, 45 percent of districts in the state exceeded expected growth, 23 percent met expected growth and 32 percent were below expected growth.

Last year, green, yellow and red represented value-added ratings, according to Scott Blake, ODE media-relations specialist. The designations are basically the same this year but use graphics instead.

"There is no difference. We changed from the colors to graphics this time around for a couple of reasons," he said. "One: in black-and-white print, the colors are not distinguishable, and schools didn't want to have to print the report cards in color due to the cost," he said. "Plus it helps eliminate issues color-blind individuals might have."

Green is the same as a plus, with yellow a check and red a minus.

"Second, there was some concern around using yellow -- a cautionary color -- to represent something that was actually a good thing," he said.

Although "excellent" has been the top rating for schools in recent years, "excellent with distinction" has been added as the best rating.

Statewide, 74 of the 610 state-rated districts achieved the "excellent with distinction" level.

In central Ohio, Bexley, Dublin, Hilliard, New Albany-Plain Local, Olentangy, Pickerington, Granville and Upper Arlington were "excellent with distinction."

According to ODE, the new rating was added to mark districts that have been designated excellent and also exceed value-added goals for two consecutive years.

These new ratings were the result of legislation, but ODE spokesperson Karla Warren said it takes time to get new indicators rolling.

"It did go through (the state legislature) years ago," she said. "It was approved, but because of the data set required, it took awhile."