Like many Ohio school districts, Pickerington received a downgrade on the most recent state report card

Like many Ohio school districts, Pickerington received a downgrade on the most recent state report card

District local officials, however, said it's the report card itself that's lacking.

The Pickerington Local School District's scoring on the most recent state report card reflected a changing landscape for performance standards state officials said have "raised expectations for students."

The district received one A, two C's, two D's and an F on the 2015-16 state report card released Thursday, Sept. 15, by the Ohio Department of Education.

The marks reflected reports from around the state in days leading up to the release of the grades, in which school officials from throughout Ohio said they were preparing for lower scores.

But Pickerington Superintendent Valerie Browning-Thompson cast a less than glowing assessment of the report card itself.

"Because the state has changed its tests each year for the past three years, there has been no testing stability," Browning-Thompson said.

"It's currently impossible to use the report cards to effectively gauge our progress from one year to the next.

"These tests inform us, but don't define us," she said.

"Assessing the data that comprise the report card grades is also incredibly complicated.

" Reducing all that data into a simple letter grade can often give a misleading perception about academic progress and performance," Browning-Thompson said.

State officials noted the education system in Ohio is "in transition," and "more challenging expectations" are designed to improve students learning.

"Ohio has raised expectations for students to reflect what is necessary for them to be successful in college, careers and life," Paolo DeMaria, Ohio superintendent of public instruction, said in a press statement.

"This year's report cards and the grades we're seeing reflect a system in transition.

"They reflect new tests, higher achievement targets and more challenging expectations. Improvement is happening, and with time, it will begin to show on the report cards."

Districts and schools were graded on six components for the 2015-2016 school year.

The components are achievement, progress, gap closing, graduation rate, K-3 literacy and prepared for success.

Pickerington received an A for its graduation rate.

The report card stated 96.8 percent of students in the district graduated within four years, and 97.6 percent graduated within five years.

The district received C's for both achievement - a gauge of the number of students who passed state tests and how well they performed on them - and prepared for success, which seeks to measure how well students are prepared for college or work after graduation.

Pickerington received D's for both K-3 literacy and progress, which measures how much students have advanced based on past learning.

The district also was given an F for gap closing, which is supposed to show how well schools "are meeting the performance expectations for our most vulnerable populations of students in English language arts, math and graduation."

On its 2014-15 report card, Pickerington received overall grades of A for progress and graduation rate, B for gap closing, C for achievement and a D for K-3 literacy.

Sharon Caccimelio, Pickerington executive director of teaching and learning, said the district looks closely at the report cards, but the district has what it considers to be more valuable tools to gauge progress.

"Assessment is not just one day, one test," Caccimelio said.

"We look at internal data collected every day through things like our STARS reports and through the day-to-day assessments that are embedded in our curriculum," she said.

STARS is an acronym for System To Achieve Results for Students, a web-based application that provides for planning and management of professional development and technical assistance for Ohio educators, according to the ODE.

"These are a much better measure of what our students are learning in real time," Caccimelio added.

"We believe it's most appropriate for us to stay the course.

"We know what we are doing is working. We can see the results in our data," she said.

"And while there are always places we can find to make improvements, it would be misguided to use the report cards to drive everything we do."

nellis@thisweeknews.com

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