Pickerington Times-Sun

District fares well on simulated state report card

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The Pickerington Local School District would hold its own -- if not the line -- under a new performance grading system being put forth by the Ohio Department of Education.

While numerous districts throughout central Ohio and the state would perform poorly under the state's impending report card system, the Pickerington would grade out above average in all nine performance categories.

The grades are based on student performance during the 2011-12 school year.

April 10, the the state department of education released "simulated report cards," which seek to show how Ohio school districts would have been graded under the new system to be implemented in August, which will take into account one-year academic growth for low-performing students.

Based on the ODE's current grading system, Pickerington was rated "excellent with distinction" based on student performance and learning in the 2011-12 school year.

That is the highest ranking currently given, and it was the fourth time in five years the district achieved the feat.

No overall grades were given on the simulated report cards released last week, but under the state's new standards, Pickerington schools would receive an "A" in "performance indicators," which is based on how many students have a minimum or proficient level of knowledge.

With respect to "value-added," which is supposed to represent students' academic progress in a given year, PLSD received A's for its overall student body, gifted students and students with disabilities.

"To me, (value-added) is the baseline," said Pickerington Superintendent Rob Walker. "This district just posted its banner for being excellent with distinction again.

"Pickerington has been an education destination for a lot of people. We will continue to make Pickerington an education destination."

It received B's in value-added for the district's lowest-performance students, as well as for the district's annual measurable objectives, which seeks to measure how districts are closing gaps in academic growth among specific groups of students, such as different racial groups and students with disabilities.

Additionally, Pickerington was given a B for "performance index," which reportedly measures achievement of every student, not just whether they reach "proficient."

It also received B's for its four-year and five-year graduation rates.

Some districts in central Ohio which were rated excellent with distinction under the current grading system wouldn't fare as well under the new format.

Among them are Olentangy Local Schools in Delaware County, which would receive C's for value-added among its lowest-performing students and students with disabilities, and Bexley City Schools, which would earn a C in annual measurable objectives.

Reynoldsburg City Schools, which also was excellent with distinction under the current format, would receive a C in its five-year graduation rate and a D in value-added for gifted students.

Hilliard, which like the PLSD was an A-plus district under the current system, would receive all A's and B's except under its closing of achievement gaps, which would earn it a D under the new format.

"If this were a race, we'd be up there in the front," Walker said. "We're where we want to be."

The new grading system will be implemented as Ohio districts also are introducing new "Common Core" academic standards.

The latter standards are being mandated for the 2013-14 by the state, and are designed to better prepare students for college and careers after high school.

Walker said the changing standards and expectations placed on teachers, administrators and students represent major challenges, but he supports them because he believes they will better prepare students for the entering college and the 21st workforce.

"What our parents need to realize and understand is our schools are being held to a completely new standard," he said. "This is a new way of measuring academic progress.

"Look at Roger Bannister," Walker said. "Nobody thought a human could run a four-minute mile, but as soon as he did it, look what happened.

"We are raising the bar in education and our goal is to produce every child that is college- or career-ready."

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