After receiving low marks on the latest state report cards, Columbus City Schools officials emphasized that the district's learning environment involves more than grades.

The Ohio Department of Education's 2016-17 report cards, which gave the district F grades in five of the six primary components measured, were released Sept. 14.

Each of Ohio's more than 600 public-school districts receive a report card, as do all of the buildings in each district.

Parents can view grades and information at education.ohio. gov/topics/data/report-card-resources.

Superintendent Dan Good, in a newsletter sent Sept. 12, said "there are many ways to measure the success of our students."

"Yet, we know there is so much more to a child's learning and growth than what is measured on these reports, which offer only a limited snapshot on a handful of indicators," Good wrote.

The F's were in achievement, which measures how well students performed on state tests; graduate rates of 74.1 percent of students in four years and 80.8 percent in five years; gap closing, or how well schools are doing in closing the achievement gap of students based on income, race, ethnicity or disability; prepared for success, a measurement of how prepared students are for college and technical training; and progress, which measures the growth all students make based on their past performance.

The district earned a D on the sixth primary component, K-3 literacy, which looks at how successful a district is at getting struggling readers on track to proficiency in the third grade and beyond.

At the building level, the report cards showed signs of progress, said Scott Varner, spokesman for the district.

For example, Dominion Middle School received two A's -- one in overall achievement and the other in helping advance the lowest 20th percent of students to learn and grow in a year or more's time.

Mifflin High School also received an A in overall achievement and a B in showing progress for all students.

Varner said district leaders are not ignoring the results of the state report cards, but are evaluating the data along with other benchmarks.

"Every measurement is valuable, but it's how much value do you give to it?" he asked.

Chris Woolard, senior executive director at the Ohio Department of Education, said the ODE has seen positive signs in this year's report cards.

"One of the things that we're seeing across the board is that achievement levels are up," Woolard said.

He said the proper context is needed to understand the grades.

"We encourage parents and community members to talk to teachers and talk to principals," he said.

Report cards should not be the lone piece of evidence residents use to judge a district, Woolard said.

"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 grades of 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.

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