Upper Arlington News

District earns mostly A's on state report card

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Upper Arlington City Schools earned a number of top grades on the latest state report card, but a pair of C grades in key areas may help guide intervention efforts, administrators say.

Emilie Greenwald, chief academic officer, presented report card results to school board members at a workshop meeting Aug. 26.

The Ohio Department of Education released data for the redesigned state report card Aug. 22.

Greenwald said letter grades for six components replaced ratings such as "excellent with distinction," which the district earned on last year's state report card.

Two of those components -- K-3 literacy and prepared for success -- will not be graded until 2014 and 2015.

The other four components are achievement, which includes state standards and performance index; graduation rates, based on how many students complete high school within four or five years; progress, which includes grades for value-added categories measuring academic growth in one year; and gap-closing, which includes the annual measurable objectives (AMO) for achievement of student groups.

The district received an A for meeting all 24 state standards, based on 24 state achievement tests, in which students must score at least 75 percent to be labeled proficient.

The performance index measures the achievement of every student, with schools receiving more points for students who score higher than proficient. Upper Arlington received a 107.2 performance index score, earning a B.

Under the progress component, the district earned an overall value-added grade of A. It also earned A's in the value-added subcategories of gifted students and students with disabilities, but received a C for students counted in the lowest 20 percent in achievement.

Greenwald said a C grade in progress means students made one year's worth of growth in an academic year, while the A grades in the other value-added categories mean those students made more than one year's growth in academics.

"We are in the process of identifying the students who are struggling so that we can pass on those names to principals for targeted intervention," Greenwald said.

Board member Margie Pizzuti said C grades are not easy to see on the new report card.

"We are so used to not seeing C grades," she said. "We are used to excelling. But in this section, the grade is average."

The district earned another C in the AMO category for the gap-closing component. The objectives measure how student groups such as students with disabilities, students with limited English, low-income students and certain ethnic groups meet state benchmarks of achievement, which rise each year.

Greenwald said the gap-closing grade will continue to be calculated on an increasing scale, set by the state, until gaps in achievement are closed.

"While we don't like to see a grade of C, it identifies a category we need to work on," she said.

The district earned two more A's for its four-year and five-year graduation rates.

Greenwald said the state will give districts an overall letter grade in 2015 based on all six components.

Superintendent Paul Imhoff said the state cannot just average the grades to get an overall letter grade, because some of the grades will be weighted differently than others.

"As a school district, though, we need to look at multiple academic measurements, because you cannot determine the quality of a school based on one day of state testing in reading and math," he said.

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