Delaware and Big Walnut leaders are accepting this year's state report cards with the caveat that they're just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to determining student achievement.

The Delaware City School District received an overall grade of C on its latest state report card, released Sept. 13 by the Ohio Department of Education.

The state report cards are used to rate districts throughout Ohio on performance during the 2017-18 school year.

Superintendent Paul Craft joined many other central Ohio school leaders in emphasizing that the report cards don't paint a complete picture of the district.

"The report card is just one measure we use to evaluate the effectiveness of our curriculum and programming," Craft said. "We still have a lot of work to do in analyzing the report-card information to determine areas where we can continue to improve."

Among the district's buildings, Dempsey Middle School received a B grade. Smith, Carlisle and Schultz elementary schools received C grades, as did Hayes High School. Conger and Woodward elementary schools earned D's.

This year's grade card marks the first time schools and districts have been assigned overall letter grades.

The overall grade is determined by results from the report card's six components, including 20 percent each from achievement and progress and 15 percent each from gap closing, improvement among at-risk K-3 readers, the graduation rate and prepared for success.

The report card also gave the district letter grades in each of the six areas:

* Achievement, based largely on test scores: C

* Graduation rate: B

* Progress, which compares students' progress to their past performances: B

* Improving at-risk readers from kindergarten to third grade: C

* Gap closing, which measures progress among "most vulnerable" students in English language arts, math, graduation and English-language proficiency: D

* Prepared for success, which looks at how well students are prepared for future opportunities: D.

"The state report card for DCS shows several areas of improvement for our district," Craft said. "One of the indicators we watch closely is student progress. Once again, we are proud that our DCS students showed significantly more academic growth than the state average. We also continue to make steady progress with our graduation rates."

More report card results for Delaware schools can be found at tinyurl.com/dcsreportcard.

The Big Walnut Local School District fared slightly better, earning an overall grade of B.

Superintendent Angie Pollock also said the state reports cards, while useful, don't tell the whole story.

"While we are pleased that we received an overall grade of B -- only 4.6 percent of districts in Ohio received an A, and only 31.4 percent received a B -- we are careful to only use these assessments as what they are: one piece of data to help us evaluate the programs we use to serve our students."

Among the district's buildings, Big Walnut Elementary School received an A grade. Big Walnut Middle School and Souders Elementary School earned B's. Big Walnut High School, Big Walnut Intermediate School and Rosecrans and Harrison Street elementary schools received C's.

Grades in each component are:

* Achievement: C

* Graduation rate: A

* Progress: B

* Improving at-risk readers from kindergarten to third grade: C

* Gap closing: B

* Prepared for success: D.

Pollock said the district will continue to monitor data throughout the year and use it to drive instruction in the classroom.

She added she's proud of the district's performance in the value-added category, which measures students' growth from year to year, but had some issues with the state's methods.

"I continue to question the validity of that measure due to unexplained fluctuations in many districts from year to year," Pollock said. "At Big Walnut, we will continue to make instructional decisions based on what is best for the students we serve and the skills they need to be successful in the future."

More report card results for Big Walnut schools can be found at tinyurl.com/bwsreportcard.

Paolo DeMaria, state superintendent of public instruction, said in a press release that this year's report cards show improvement in districts in every corner of the state, at all levels of wealth, large and small, urban, rural and everything in between.

"Each of Ohio's students can achieve, and the report cards provide us with reasons to celebrate," he said. "They also identify areas for improvement, and we'll use them to drive conversations on how we can better serve Ohio's 1.7 million students."

Grades and other data for all Ohio schools and districts can be found at reportcard. education.ohio.gov.

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