The Whitehall City School District received a D on its state report card this year.

The Ohio Department of Education on Sept. 13 released state report cards for all of Ohio's approximately 610 public school districts for 2017-18.

For the first time, districts and schools within a district were assigned an overall letter grade.

"State report cards are an important benchmark to show what's going on in a district, (but) we know it does not tell the whole story," said Chris Woolard, senior executive director of the Ohio Department of Education. "It's a snapshot, (and) we encourage parents to get more information. Talk to teachers and principals about what is going on in the district."

Whitehall Superintendent Brian Hamler said the district is performing better than the overall grade would indicate.

"At a surface level, the result of our report card is a bit disappointing," he said. "Certainly, an overall grade of D is nothing to celebrate. However, when you dig into the data, there are some impressive improvements."

"Significant improvement" was made in every state test, he said, and the B received in the progress component "is reflective of the good instruction and leadership in our district."

"Once again, the students of the Whitehall City School District exceeded the expected amount of growth in an academic year," he said.

An overall-letter-grade approach has been in the works for about six years, Woolard said, but continuing changes in state testing pushed it back until this year.

The overall letter grade is calculated by using results in the six individual components that compose the stare report card: achievement, progress, gap closing, improving at-risk K-3 readers, graduation rate and prepared for success, according to Woolard.

Whitehall scored its highest component mark, a B, for progress. The progress component looks at the growth all students are making in contrast to past performance, Woolard said.

Within this component, the report card shows the district excelled at reaching its lowest achievers.

In the value-added segment of progress, Whitehall received an A for students who are classified as the lowest 20 percent in achievement.

The district received a C for gifted students and those with disabilities.

The categories within progress are not equally weighted.

Overall is weighted 55 percent, whereas gifted, students with disabilities and lowest 20 percent in achievement are weighted at 15 percent each, Woolard said.

Whitehall had the lowest grades for achievement and prepared for success, receiving an F in each component.

The achievement component represents whether student performance on state tests met established thresholds and how well students performed on tests overall, Woolard said.

Prepared for success looks at how well-prepared students are for all future opportunities.

Whitehall received a D in gap closing, graduation rate and improving at-risk K-3 readers.

Gap closing shows how well schools are meeting the performance expectations of the most vulnerable students in English-language arts, math, graduation and English-language proficiency, Woolard said.

Graduation rate looks at the percentage of students who receive a diploma in four or five years.

According to the report card, 80.6 percent of Whitehall students graduate in four years and 84.3 percent graduate within five years.

Improving at-risk K-3 readers is self-explanatory.

ODE did not rank each of the districts from No. 1 down, but districts can be sorted by the letter grade received, Woolard said.

The number of public school districts can vary only by a few each year because of "island districts" that intermittently operate in the Lake Erie region, said Brittany Halpin, a spokeswoman for ODE.

Results for all Ohio school districts can be viewed here: reportcard.education.ohio.gov.

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