District leaders aim high for 2012-13 state grades
Olentangy Local School District officials raised the bar for the district in the 2012-13 school year with a higher target score for its next state report card.
The change was one of several tweaks to the district's Continuous Improvement Plan, which saw a first reading at the school board's Sept. 13 meeting.
The plan is set to be approved following a second reading Thursday, Sept. 27. No action was taken during the Sept. 13 work session.
The plan identifies benchmarks for the district in each new school year. This year, the board raised its target Performance Index score for the state report card to 108, up from last year's target of 106.5.
Performance Index scores are based on standardized test scores.
The district is likely to top last year's goal with its upcoming report card; projections indicate it will score between 107.2 and 107.4 when the new assessments are released this year.
In a typical year, those grades already would be available, but state education officials are withholding grades following a data-manipulation scandal involving several Ohio school districts, including Columbus City Schools.
Superintendent Wade Lucas said the district might not reach the ambitious goal of 108 on next year's report card. The district has averaged an increase of half a point in the past decade. That would put it at 107.7 to 107.9 next year -- just shy of the goal.
That would keep the district from earning the top ranking in a new, more-rigorous grading system that state officials have proposed, which would award a letter grade to districts instead of descriptive ratings such as "Effective" and "Excellent."
Only districts that earn a score of 108 or higher would earn a grade of A under that system.
"I have extreme confidence we'll improve," Lucas said. "If we say 108, that's not automatic, but again, I think this district always sets the bar very high and tries to achieve that."
Last year, the district earned the top rating of "Excellent with Distinction" under the current rating system.
Board member Julie Wagner Feasel said the move to the new Common Core curriculum makes next year's score harder to predict.
Lawmakers have said the new guidelines, which will standardize most core content across state lines, are more rigorous than the old standards.
"We'll know how the Common Core will affect our scores when we have one or two years of that under our belt," Feasel said.
Olentangy is far from the only district that could see a possible rating downgrade under the new system. Only 17 of Ohio's 609 public school districts would have earned an A in 2011 if the new standards had been in place, and just one in central Ohio: Granville schools.
Regardless, it isn't yet clear if the state will adopt the new grading system by next year.
The new district plan also includes a relaxed goal for student-teacher ratios in school buildings.
Last year's goal was 15 students to every teacher. With the district continuing to grow at a rapid rate, the board relaxed the target ratio to 16 students to every teacher.
The ratios include aides, librarians and other support staff in addition to regular classroom teachers.