For the 11th straight year, Upper Arlington City Schools achieved an "excellent" rating on the Ohio Department of Education's state report card.

For the 11th straight year, Upper Arlington City Schools achieved an "excellent" rating on the Ohio Department of Education's state report card.

The district received the "excellent with distinction" designation for 2010-11 for the fourth year in a row. It is ODE's highest designation, earned by only 8 percent of Ohio schools.

Missy Gordon, the district's director of intervention services and assessment, addressed the UA Board of Education at a work session Aug. 29.

"We need to go beyond the words. Being excellent with distinction is a wonderful, wonderful thing, but we need to look beyond the label," she said. "It's important to know how we get there."

UA schools met 26 of 26 state indicators. To meet a test indicator for grades 3 through 8 and grade 10, at least 75 percent of students tested must score proficient or higher. To meet the 11th grade Ohio Graduation Test indicator, at least 85 percent of students tested must score proficient or higher.

Other state indicators require an attendance rate of at least 93 percent and a graduation rate of at least 90 percent.

Gordon said the performance index measures how well students performed on assessments across all tested subjects and grade levels. UA received a score of 106.8 on a scale of 0 to 120.

Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, is a federally required measure. AYP goals are set for reading and mathematics proficiency, attendance rate and graduation rate. These goals are then applied to 10 specific student subgroups.

UA met AYP as a district, and each applicable subgroup met its AYP goals, as well.

"What we should really be celebrating, in my opinion, is our subgroups," Gordon said, noting that economically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities and limited English proficient students are all making adequate yearly progress.

The designation of "with distinction" comes from the "value-added measure," which represents the progress a district has made with its students since the last school year. UA achieved an overall value-added rating of "above expected growth," meaning students made more than a year's progress in a year's time.

Gordon said the state provides data that compares UA to 20 similar school districts identified based on demographics, incomes, housing prices, etc. UA students met or exceeded performance on 24 of 26 state indicators when measured against the "similar district average."

People may be tempted to compare schools primarily in the same region, Gordon said, but "not all districts around here are similar."

She also addressed some concerns community members have raised regarding third grade spring reading assessment performance. Gordon said when students take assessments, the state provides an information report which is mailed to families. It compares state averages with district averages. The third grade reading test is administered in October and in May.

"We do not retest kids who pass the assessment in the fall," Gordon said. "We are one of a few districts who do not retest. In the spring, it looks as if our average is below the state average because we don't test all of our kids."

Gordon said community members may also be concerned by data that appears on the individual building report cards for 2010-11. Several of the individual building report cards show a state average of 100 percent proficiency in third-grade reading, and a state average of 0 percent proficiency in fourth- and fifth-grade reading. The district report card and the report card for Wickliffe reflect the correct state average percentages of 79.9 percent proficient in third-grade reading, 83.8 percent proficient in fourth-grade reading and 74.1 percent proficient in fifth-grade reading.

"There is some stirring out there about these percentages," Gordon said. The district has contacted the ODE and asked them to update and correct the numbers.

State report card data may be accessed online at website www.uaschools.org or reportcard.ohio.gov.