Olentangy Valley News

Career center gets first letter grades from state

DACC earns 'A' for graduation rates, 'B' for student outcomes

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The Delaware Area Career Center learned last week how it stacks up against other technical schools in the state when the Ohio Department of Education announced letter grades for 91 districts as part of an all-new report card system.

The system that rates districts based on four-year and five-year graduation rates and post-program outcomes is considered by the state to be the first of its kind to use A-to-F letter grades in evaluation of technical schools.

"Holding career and technical centers accountable and ensuring they are providing a quality education is vital to the success of those schools and the success of those students that graduate from those schools," State Superintendent of Public Instruction Richard A. Ross said in a prepared statement.

Preliminary grades that reflect the 2011 school year were announced July 16.

The career center received an A grade in both graduation-rate categories, with 95.37 percent of students graduating in four years and 95.16 percent of students graduating within five years.

Students enrolled at Big Walnut, Buckeye Valley, Delaware, Olentangy, Worthington and Westerville high schools are eligible to join the two-year career center during their junior year. Students also are able to enroll at DACC during their senior year, which necessitates the five-year graduation-rate portion of the report card.

Although the career center scored 94.33 percent on the post-program outcomes portion of the report card, the district was assigned a B grade because only 81 percent of the data needed to evaluate that standard was provided by the district. At least 85 percent of required data had to be submitted by the district to maintain its original A grade.

While the career center is required to submit the bulk of the reporting to the state during the evaluation process, its 12 partner schools -- the 11 center-eligible schools and the Ohio School for the Deaf -- also are required to submit graduation rates and post-program information.

Each year, the district that is composed of DACC and its 12 partner schools is required to meet federal accountability standards. According to a news release from the Ohio Board of Education, some of those standards such as technical skill attainment and non-traditional participation will be measured and added to the test in coming years.

DACC Superintendent Mary Beth Freeman said the district wasn't informed until the spring which variables would be considered on the report card -- long past when the 2011 data was shared with the state.

But while the report card outcomes will have an effect on how the center does business in the future, Freeman said it has always focused on continuous improvement.

"These areas aren't things that we've just started paying attention to," Freeman said. "I think the report card just shows that we are meeting community expectations, but every day, all of our staff at both the career center and the staff in our home districts are all taking their jobs very seriously and doing a wonderful job preparing our students to be college- and career-ready."

Students enrolled at DACC can learn career skills through 25 different programs, including cosmetology, culinary arts, early childhood education, construction, automotive technology and dental assisting.

Freeman said the leaders of each program sat down with senior students last year to explain the importance of completing a follow-up survey that will be mailed to all 2013 graduates. The data collected from the survey is submitted and used to determine the placement score on the state report card.

The survey helps determine which students have gone on to careers in their fields, joined the military and enrolled in post-secondary education or advanced training.

To increase participation in the survey, Freeman said the career center is considering reaching out to students via email with a digital survey.

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