Westerville City School District administrators were celebrating the release of new state report card scores last week, saying the grades were consistent with past district successes.
The Ohio Department of Education released district and school report card results Aug. 22 in a new format that will continue to evolve until it is finalized in 2015.
The Westerville City School District earned mostly A's and B's in the nine categories for which letter grades were given and did not earn any grade below a C.
Districts were not given overall scores as they have been in the past, and state officials said they have not yet determined how overall letter grades will be calculated.
"Regardless of the report card design or the reporting system, our student achievement data remains steady and positive," Westerville Superintendent John Kellogg said. "If you correlate the data in this report card to the last system, we would have been Excellent with Distinction."
The district met 24 of 24 testing indicators, earning an A in that category.
On the performance index, which is a numerical calculation of how students score overall on state assessments, the district earned a 102.7 rating. That's 85.6 percent of the possible 120, or a B letter grade.
The district was particularly proud of its value-added scoring, Kellogg said.
That category scores how students progressed from the previous year, with a C indicating that students saw one-year of growth in an academic year.
Overall, the district earned an A for value-added, with gifted students earning a C, students with disabilities earning an A and the 20 percent of students with the lowest academic performance earning an A.
Kellogg said the district consistently has met the value-added component of the report card for the last several years.
"That's saying our kids are making more than a year's academic progress, on average," he said. "To do that over seven years, we're kind of defying the odds."
The district earned a C in gap-closing, which measures how subgroups of students, such as those from low-income households, those who speak English as a second language and those with disabilities, score compared with the general student population.
The promising sign, Kellogg said, is that if students are meeting the value-added component and making more than a year's worth of growth, as the report card shows, academic achievement gaps should close.
"That's how you close a gap: You move the rate of growth to more than a year and you close the gap," he said.
Nonetheless, district leaders do recognize that there is work to do in the gap-closing area, Kellogg said.
"We knew we had performance gaps for some of our kids," he said. "We know we have work to do there."
The district earned B grades both for its four-year graduation rate, which was 92.1 percent, and for its five-year graduation rate, which was 92.5 percent.
Though the district is counting this year's report card as a success, district leaders still are hard at work looking toward next year's report card.
Next year, the state will increase, from 75 to 80, the percentage of students who must pass an assessment test for a district to meet that indicator on the report card.
In 2014-2015, the state will roll out a new generation of assessments that are meant to be more rigorous.
There are also additional indicators coming from the state on report cards, including a literacy measure that will grade whether students are becoming proficient in reading between kindergarten and third grade and whether graduates are adequately prepared for college or a career.
"I think what we're going to be focusing on is where the next group of metrics are for the next report card to be making sure we're putting things in place to make sure we're performing well on those," Kellogg said.
"There are some school districts whose previous performances are going to take a little bit of a black eye."
There also is work to do in helping parents, staff and the community adjust to the new report card format, district spokesman Greg Viebranz said.
"There are more changes on the way and it will be our responsibility to educate not only our staff but our parents and our community," Viebranz said.