The Ohio Department of Education on Sept. 14 released its report cards for Ohio's 611 public school districts for the 2016-17 year, and many districts, including Whitehall, had less-than-stellar marks.
The results were not a surprise, because districts already had received preliminary results before the report cards were released publicly, said Ty Debevoise, director of communications and marketing for Whitehall schools.
As in past years, Whitehall Superintendent Brian Hamler said the report cards are only one barometer of measuring the quality of school districts in Ohio.
Parents can view grades and information on each report-card component at education. ohiogov/topics/data/report-card-resources.
"Here in Whitehall, we appreciate the state report card as a snapshot of our students' performance at a certain time in their educational career. However, it falls well short when it comes to informing the public of all the wonderful things that are happening in our schools," Hamler said.
State report cards consider a variety of metrics and give grades on six components: achievement, gap closing, K-3 literacy, progress, graduation rate and prepared for success.
Whitehall received one B, one C, two D's, and 2 F's.
Whitehall received its highest mark for progress.
The district earned a component grade of B, with an even higher mark of A for progress of students in the lowest 20 percent in achievement.
The progress component measures the growth that all students are making based on their past performances, according to the Ohio Department of Education website.
"In our results this year, I am most pleased with our component grade of B in the area of progress," Hamler said.
"Only three districts in Franklin County received a higher grade than Whitehall (in progress) which confirms what we already know: We have amazing teachers who are getting more than a year's worth of growth out of our students every year," Hamler said.
Whitehall earned a C in K-3 literacy.
The K-3 literacy component looks at how successful a district is at getting struggling readers on track to proficiency in the third grade and beyond, according to the ODE website.
Whitehall received a D in graduation rate and achievement.
The graduation rate component looks at the percentage of students who successfully finish high school with a diploma in four or five years. The achievement component represents the number of students who passed the state tests and how well students performed on the tests, according to the ODE website.
Whitehall's four-year graduation rate is 77 percent and its five-year graduation rate is 86.3 percent.
Whitehall received failing grades for gap closing and prepared for success.
The gap closing component shows how well a district is meeting performance expectations for the most vulnerable students in English, math, language arts and graduation, according to the ODE website.
The prepared for success component judges how prepared students are for all future opportunities.
"I understand and embrace accountability but I'm not sure we have the right metrics to measure schools in a way that promotes fairness and equality," Hamler said.
Chris Woolard, senior executive director at the Ohio Department of Education, said the proper context is required to comprehend the grades.
"We encourage parents and community members to talk to teachers and talk to principals," he said, adding the report cards should not be the sole evidence residents use to judge a district.
"We know there's a lot more to the story," he said.
He said the report cards are "designed to be aspirational."
"The whole point of the system is it's designed to be a system of continuous improvement," he said.
Woolard said students could be achieving a lot in districts that have D's or F's on their report cards.
"It does not mean that your school district is failing," he said.
Woolard said the ODE has not heard from many district officials yet this year. He said department officials "would be happy to sit down and talk" with district officials who do not understand their grades or disagree with them.
The state will debut an overall letter grade for each district on next year's report cards, he said.
ThisWeek staff writer Thomas Gallick contributed to this story.