Westerville News & Public Opinion

State Report Cards will add a few new measures

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The State Report Card will show more data and new grades after the 2014-15 school year, but expect to see some new additions on the new report card at the end of this summer.

The State Report Card measures individual schools and districts in different categories. The report card will reflect six different components instead of four by 2015.

In two years, the report card will show grades on its original four categories -- achievement, gap closing, progress, and graduation rate -- and an additional two grades for the new "K-3 literacy" and "preparedness for success" categories.

Additionally, the report card will also show an overall cumulative grade for each school and district based on the grades from each category.

"In the future there will be an overall grade for all six components, so it's like six classes. You have a grade for each of your six classes and then an overall GPA," Westerville City School District Superintendent John Kellogg said.

The "K-3 literacy" component grade reflects whether students are learning to read between kindergarten and third grade based on Ohio Achievement Assessments.

Last year, the K-3 literacy component had no measure, but this year will show a literacy improvement grade based on two years of data. Each year, the grade can change based on the students' improvement in aggregate.

"If in your kindergarten class you have 100 kids, and 40 of them are not on track for the Third-Grade Reading Guarantee. As that grade moves up, if you reduce the number of kids in that same grade who went from not-meeting to meeting, your score improves," Kellogg said.

In 2015, enough data will be collected and provide an overall K-3 literacy grade that indicates how well students are learning how to read.

The second new category, "preparedness for success," measures how well students are prepared for careers or college after high school. It shows data for various subgroups: college admission tests, dual enrollment, honors diplomas, Advanced Placement course participation and scores, International Baccalaureate data, college and career ready assessment data and industry credential information.

Though this category will have reports on the various subgroups' preparedness, the preparedness for success category will not receive a state grade until 2015.

Though the 2013-14 school year report card hasn't been released yet, Westerville school district officials prepared for the changes by hiring coordinators and directors to specialize in certain achievement areas.

"Overall, our strategic plan dictates how we are going to move forward in the district longterm," Kellogg said. "Once we get ahold of those metrics that reflect our accountability measures, we will make improvements in each one of them."

In 2015, the district will be graded on its gifted students' successes. The district moved Vicki Jarrell, former principal at Emerson Elementary School, to a full-time coordinator of gifted services to help in the new area.

The district also is searching for a coordinator to help boost existing report card categories. The district struggles with a "C" in gap closing, which indicates that economically disadvantaged, African American, limited English-speaking students and students with disabilities struggle with reading and math scores and are below the state's goal.

To focus on those measures, the district is looking to hire a coordinator of minority achievement who can analyze the data and strategically plan for success.

Improving performance in this gap-closing measure will be particularly difficult since the reading and math targets increase by 1.5 percent and 2 percent a year, respectively, to meet rising state standards. For example, whereas this year each subgroup may need to achieve an 80 percent in reading, next year needs to be 81.5 percent, and the following year 83 percent.

Kellogg said the district may hit the goal one year, but the bar will be raised for the following year.

"We're chasing a moving target," Kellogg said. "This is a pressure point for the system that we need to continue to monitor."

As several changes will be coming this year and more next year, Kellogg wants everyone to be aware and ready for the future.

"Rather than be victims of the results, I'd rather set us up for success on these results," he said.

The State Report Card for 2013-14 will be released and available online in August.

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