Reynoldsburg schools may have earned the highest rating -- "excellent with distinction" -- on the last state report card, but Superintendent Steve Dackin said last week the district's grades under the new local report card system likely won't be straight A's.
"We received a simulation of what our report card might look like this summer, based on last year's results," he told the Reynoldsburg Board of Education at its April 16 meeting.
"The new system goes far deeper than a new format. It is a new set of more-rigorous standards," he said. "While I'm proud of what we achieved on the last report card, with this new system we will understand why even the old 'excellent' is not good enough."
Under the new system, districts will receive letter grades of A-F based on six components:
* Achievement, compared to national standards of success.
* Progress, or whether a student gained more or less of a year's worth of knowledge and skills.
* Gap-closing, or how well a district is narrowing achievement gaps in ethnic or socioeconomic student groups.
* Graduation rate, the percentage of students who entered the ninth grade and graduated in four or five years.
* K-3 literacy, measuring improvement in reading for K-3 students.
* Prepared for success, measuring whether students who graduate are prepared for college or a career.
The component grades are then combined into an overall grade for the district or school.
The new report card will be phased in over several years, beginning in August. Each district will have nine measures that receive grades. Component or overall grades will not begin until 2015, according to the Ohio Department of Education.
Dackin said he is disappointed by the phase-in, not because it will be more rigorous, but because he thinks the overall grades should begin right away.
Under the simulation, which was based on each district's test results for the 2011-12 school year, Reynoldsburg would still have received A's for the performance indicators, value-added and performance by students with disabilities.
The district would have received B's, however, for performance index, the four-year graduation rate and annual measurable objectives.
The grades get lower for a five-year graduation rate, which would have been a C. In value-added for gifted students, the district would have received a D under the new system, Dackin said.
"I am really disappointed that we would have gotten a D on value-added for gifted students," he said. "We will be looking hard at the causes for that. I have already heard the excuse that there is a ceiling that gifted students hit so that they don't make a year's progress.
"But that doesn't explain why Upper Arlington and Hilliard schools received A grades in that category," he said.
Dackin said he is optimistic Reynoldsburg schools will find ways to stay at the top, even under the new grading system.
"Any time the bar is raised in Reynoldsburg, we get there," he said, "so I think we can turn that D into an A. Even if we get an A in achievement, we are not achieving if we are not pushing our gifted students enough."
He said the more-rigorous system of grading was the right move for the state.
"I'm looking forward to the challenge of making sure we get A's in all the categories," he said.