The Upper Arlington City School District received an "excellent with distinction" rating, the highest rank possible on the Ohio Department of Education's 2007-08 report card.

The Upper Arlington City School District received an "excellent with distinction" rating, the highest rank possible on the Ohio Department of Education's 2007-08 report card.

ODE assigns the rating to districts that have shown growth for at least two consecutive years.

"Our kids have always scored well, but we want to make sure you score well not only at your level, but above your level so you can show continuous growth," said superintendent Jeffrey Weaver.

The ODE report cards were officially released on Tuesday. Preliminary results had initially indicated that the district had not met several adequate yearly progress (AYP) standards.

AYP is a measurement included in the federal No Child Left Behind Act. According to the Ohio School Boards Association, a district can meet AYP by meeting annual reading and math goals for certain student subgroups, include students with disabilities, racial/ethnic minorities, limited English proficiency and economically disadvantaged students.

The school report cards released Tuesday indicate that Upper Arlington did, in fact, meet all of the AYP standards for the 2007-08 school year. The ODE factored in progress students made toward the end of the school year after the department's initial evaluation, Weaver said.

"I don't think any district is out of the woods on the AYP issues," he said. "We're always watching those subgroups carefully to make sure that we're serving those students well."

The district registered slight declines from the 2006-07 school year in several areas measured by the ODE report card. Fifth-grade reading scores dropped to 90.8 percent from 92.9 percent. Eighth-grade scores went down in the following areas: math, 92.2 percent (from 95 percent); science, 86.1 percent (from 88.6 percent); and social studies, 79.6 percent (from 80.5 percent).

"This isn't necessarily a decline from one year to the next because we're talking about different classes. It was this year's fifth grade compared to last year's fifth grade," Weaver said. "While it may be lower, it's a completely different group of kids who may bring a different group of demographics."

There were also slight declines on 11th grade Ohio Graduation tests in math (97.3 percent vs. 98.3 percent the previous school year) and social studies (96.9 percent vs. 97.9 percent).

"We know that each and every student needs to pass that OGT test to graduate, so that's critical information for us. We do look at test scores" to indicate areas in need of improvement, Weaver said.

The ODE report also indicates that Upper Arlington is slightly below the state average in the number of teachers who hold advanced degrees. Statewide, 58.8 percent of teachers hold at least a master's degree, while 54 percent of Upper Arlington teachers hold an advanced degree.

Weaver said he anticipates the number of teachers with advanced degrees to increase as new teachers continue to enter the district.

"That doesn't mean that our more experienced teachers didn't have master's degrees, but you see different generations, different standards they're being held to," he said.

While the district is proud of its "excellent with distinction" rating, there is always room for improvement, Weaver said.

"As good as we may feel about the test scores," he said, "we want each class to show improvement."