Whitehall City School District Superintendent Brian Hamler says he is encouraged by preliminary state report card data received late last month, indicating students are making significant strides.
But the growth falls short of his goal: that the district meet 12 indicators on the new state report card.
Whitehall met just eight of the 24 testing benchmarks last year, earning it an "F" grade in that area. The 24 indicators are based on test results in various subjects and grade levels.
This year's official grades are expected to be released by the Ohio Department of Education in late August.
The department turned over raw test data to districts last month so schools could make corrections and adjustments, primarily for students coming in and out of districts. Hamler said that while Whitehall met eight state indicators, that number could be as high as 12 or 13 had the bar not risen for students taking the Ohio Achievement Assessments in the spring.
This year, the minimum passing rate for students increased from 75 percent to 80 percent, Hamler said. Had the passage rate remained at 75 percent this year, he said the district would have met its goal.
"This is the highest our kids have achieved since 1999," Hamler said. "I'm encouraged. I'm happy with our growth."
Hamler added it will be difficult to compare data again next year because the state is doing away with the OAA and instituting a new online test called PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers).
Districts have until July 31 to make corrections to the state's current preliminary data.
According to initial numbers released by Whitehall, students met benchmarks in sixth-grade math, eighth-grade reading, 10th-grade reading, 10th-grade writing, 11th-grade math, 11th-grade reading, 11th-grade social studies and 11th-grade writing.
Had the state's passage rate continued at 75 percent, raw data indicate students also would have passed fourth-grade reading, fourth-grade math, sixth-grade reading, 10th-grade math and 10th-grade social studies.
Preliminary numbers indicate Whitehall had academic gains in 18 of the 24 testing areas, the most significant in eighth-grade science, reading and math. Those areas saw gains of 17, 10 and 9 percent, respectively.
The most significant drop was in fifth-grade reading, which fell 13 percentage points.
"We saw very impressive results in some classes and in some buildings that we are really proud of," said Hamler. "There's a strong case to be made this is the highest we've ever achieved."
Hamler said the district's corrections are nearly complete. Whitehall likely will turn in corrected data before the July 31 deadline, he said.