Whitehall City Schools Superintendent Brian Hamler said goals he set earlier this month with teachers and administrators are key to boosting state report card results and restoring the district's rating.
Whitehall did not fare well, at least on paper, following the Ohio Department of Education's release of its new state report cards Aug. 22. The report card that brought many changes in both look and content.
The ODE's website crashed just moments after the new report card's release because of the sudden onslaught of visitors. It took a few days to return to normal.
The new state report card has a whole new look and comprises both old and new measurements.
According to the newest data, the Whitehall City School District received two A's, three C's, two D's and two F's.
The state is releasing letter grades in nine areas beginning this year but will work up to a more comprehensive report card with an overall letter grade assigned to each school and district by 2015.
If averaged together, the report's letter grades would give Whitehall an overall C, representing one step drop down from last year's "Effective" rating. That assumes, however, that all letter grades within the report card would carry the same weight. The state hasn't clarified whether that would be the case in 2015.
Whitehall received A's in two value-added categories. The value-added measure grades districts on helping students grow academically, even if they are not yet reaching state benchmarks. It was the main component in Whitehall's Effective rating last year.
Whitehall received a C for its performance-index score. Performance index calculates the success of every student by awarding points for each level of achievement on the state tests. Whitehall earned a score of 87.1, or 72.6 percent of the 100-percent benchmark.
Whitehall also received C's in two other value-added areas that measure the performance of gifted students and disabled students.
The district received two D's for its four-year (80.8 percent) and five-year (84.9 percent) graduation. The district's grades in those categories are below state standards.
Whitehall met only eight of the 24 testing benchmarks, scoring an F in that area.
The school district also received an F in a new area called annual measurable objectives, which measure achievement levels of all students regardless of income, race, culture and other demographics.
AMO is similar to the former adequate-yearly-progress measurement.
"Our focus doesn't change," Hamler said. "We take every kid and grow them. Every child is important no matter which category they fall into."
Hamler said he feels strongly that if the district rallies to meet his goal of earning 12 indicators (meeting 12 of the 24 tested areas on this year's state tests), then not only will the district's performance-indicator rating improve, but that also will positively affect other measured areas.
"That's a lofty goal ... because (the state) is moving the bar," Hamler said, "and it's going to take a special effort."
Beginning this year, the state will require an 80-percent passage rate (not the former 75 percent) on state tests to meet an indicator.
Last week's report-card release was not be a big surprise to Whitehall school officials, they said.
When simulations were released in April, Whitehall's Effective status from the previous school year averaged out to a C under the state's new measurements.