Olentangy Valley News

Highest rating ever? Early report card promising


New data released by the state last week reveals Olentangy students last year scored better on tests than ever before, bolstering projections that show the district is set to earn its highest rating yet.

Last week, the state released long-awaited data in the form of preliminary report cards for Ohio districts, including math, reading, science and Ohio Graduation Test scores for students in grades 3-11.

Though test scores saw only slight fluctuations overall compared with 2011, the district saw upticks in 17 of the 24 benchmarks measured on the State Report Card, and slight downticks in the other seven.

State officials continue to withhold the Performance Index scores it awards to districts based on those test scores. The preliminary report cards also are missing overall ratings for districts, which range from "academic emergency" to "excellent with distinction."

But the report reveals the Olentangy district exceeded Adequate Yearly Progress standards in the prior school year. AYP measures academic growth from year to year rather than achievement.

Combined, those factors indicate the district easily will exceed the baseline requirement to earn the top rating of "excellent with distinction."

The report card did show a slight dropoff in the district's overall graduation rate, from 99.5 percent to 98.5 percent.

The data is consistent with early projections that showed the district likely will earn its highest Performance Index score ever, probably between 107.2 and 107.4. That would top last year's previous best of 106.5

One benchmark that wasn't included on the preliminary report card for any Ohio districts is attendance rates for the prior school year. Along with the Performance Index score and overall rating, they are being temporarily withheld after officials in several Ohio school districts, including Columbus City Schools, were found to be manipulating attendance data.

The scandal delayed the release of the State Report Cards for weeks, but Olentangy Superintendent Wade Lucas said he anticipates the final reports aren't far off.

"We're hearing that it will follow the generic report card by about 30 days, so we'll probably get the results in November," he said at a Sept. 25 meeting of the school board.

Lucas also highlighted student ACT scores for the 2011-12 school year at the meeting.

High school students averaged a score of 24.8 out of 36, topping the previous year's mark of 24.2. The state average this year was 21.8.

"If we keep working hard, we'll reach that mark of 25. I'm sure our students will continue to work toward that," Lucas said.

He said most districts see their ACT scores decline during periods of active growth, and Olentangy is bucking that trend. More than 700 students joined this district this year.