Whitehall City Schools officials say they are pleased with several aspects of the slimmed-down state report card released last week, but they remain hesitant to guess at their overall rating.
The Ohio Department of Education released partial data last week, citing the ongoing investigation by state Auditor David Yost into alleged irregularities in the reporting of student attendance by districts throughout the state.
The state is looking into inconsistencies in attendance reported by dozens of school districts throughout Ohio, questioning whether data have been tampered with in an effort to improve state test scores.
Earlier this month, the State Board of Education voted unanimously to release much of the preliminary data for the 2011-12 local report cards but not everything. Additional report card data for districts and schools will be released later, pending the progress of the state's investigation.
For Whitehall City Schools Superintendent Judyth Dobbert-Meloy, it's a very "unusual" situation for educators and administrators.
"It is more of a spreadsheet of data than what we usually receive," Dobbert-Meloy said. "But given the circumstances in the state, I guess this is what they could provide at this time."
Dobbert-Meloy said she was most pleased with the "Value-added" growth data.
Value-added is a calculation of the growth, or progress, that each individual student makes on academic tests from year to year. The progress of each student (as opposed to a one-time snapshot) is what is used to assess the effectiveness of a school or district.
Whitehall scored above the benchmark, meaning students in the district are growing, on average, more than a year at a time.
"Obviously, the bottom line here is that our students are learning," Dobbert-Meloy said. "At whatever stage they are in, they're learning when they come to us; we are moving them forward and making academic progress. We may not be at the standard yet, but if we keep growing our students, they will get where they need to be academically.
"I think that is significant when we have such a diverse student population and one that is highly mobile, as well."
The district met only one of the seven benchmarks set by the state at the elementary school level. That is where the district was last year, Dobbert-Meloy said.
At the middle school level, students hit the benchmark (or passed) in three of the seven tested areas, representing a gain for this year.
Dobbert-Meloy was most pleased with the high school results, where students were at or above the standard in eight of the 10 areas tested.
The district's graduation rate was not as promising, however, showing a 10-point dip, down to 80.6 percent.
Dobbert-Meloy said she had expected rates to change because of the state's new way of calculating graduation data, which now take into account only those students who graduate in four years. In the past, rates included students who would take five or more years to graduate, thus boosting percentages.
Adequate yearly progress was not met by Whitehall, according to the data released last week. AYP measures reading and math proficiency within a number of subgroups, including English as a Second Language students and those with disabilities. If a district does not meet the standard in even one subgroup, it does not receive credit for AYP on the state report card.
Data for attendance rates, the performance index and overall school and district ratings, such as "Excellent" or "Effective," are not yet finalized because of the state auditor's ongoing investigation.
ODE has indicated that the results released last week are subject to change.