After a period of mediocre performance, the Pickerington Local School District earned the highest rating on the state report card for the 2007-08 school year.

After a period of mediocre performance, the Pickerington Local School District earned the highest rating on the state report card for the 2007-08 school year.

The district received a ranking of "excellent with distinction" based on its performance on 30 indicators established by the Ohio Department of Education. The district met 29 of the indicators.

"I think that is a good way to come back to school," Superintendent Karen Mantia said last week.

Last year, the district was rated as being in "continuous improvement," the equivalent of a "C" grade, and met 27 indicators.

In order to meet the state standards, 75 percent of students in grades three through 10 must pass each state proficiency test. Eight-five percent of students in grade 11 must pass each test to meet the standards.

The only area in which the district fell short this year was in eighth grade social studies. Only 70.4 percent of students passed the test. Last year, 70.7 percent of students passed the test.

There were several other areas where the district came close to not meeting the standard. For example, 75.1 percent of the district's fifth-grade students passed the math proficiency test and 76.3 percent of seventh-graders passed the math test.

The district also met state standards for attendance with a 95.7-percent attendance rate and graduation with 97.9 percent of students graduating on time. The state standard for attendance is 93 percent and for graduation is 90 percent.

The "excellent with distinction" rating is new this year and was added to the school district report cards by the department of education to recognize districts ranked "excellent" that have exceeded value-added goals for two consecutive years. Value-added goals measure improvement from year to year of students in grades four through eight.

In addition, districts are required to meet adequate yearly progress (AYP) standards established by the federal No Child Left Behind law. Those standards increase over time and are designed to measure a district's improvement.

While Pickerington met AYP this year, it missed the mark in the previous two years.

And not all schools in the district performed equally well.

Students at both Pickerington High School Central and PHS North did not meet AYP standards for math. Students at Central did not meet the standard in reading.

The AYP goal for tenth-grade students in 2006-07 for math was 60 percent passing the Ohio Graduation Test. That goal rose to 68 percent last year. In reading, the goal for 2006-07 was 71.8 percent passing. That goal rose to 77.4 percent last year.

The only other school not to meet AYP in all areas was Pickerington Elementary School, where students did not meet AYP for reading.

Mantia said the district is focused on using the data provided by the proficiency tests to target areas for.

"We have our success drivers and one of them is making data-driven decisions," Mantia said. "That is the critical part of what our staff and curriculum department focused in on.

We analyzed the data and each teacher looked at what the data told them about student learning. It also guided our instructional design."

However, she said, the tests are just one tool at the district's disposal.

"The standards by which these academic tests are constructed are really national and global," Mantia said. "While they are important, I don't want to have an over-reliance on just one set of test scores. There are many facets to children's learning. It is definitely one piece. It's just a snapshot but it is an important snapshot."