Action plans, regular meetings and continuing analysis of state reports are among the "next steps" Reynoldsburg school officials are taking as they work on ways to improve the district's state report card scores.

The district earned an overall D on the latest report card issued in September.

Superintendent Melvin Brown continues to say students should not be "reduced to a test score."

However, he said action plans are being developed in each building, aimed at trying to improve the scores. The plans include monthly progress-monitoring meetings with each principal and building leadership teams to create goals and steps based on report card data.

Additionally, Brown said administrators would analyze detailed state reports to determine gaps in resources and supports, plus train teachers on progress monitoring and formative assessment practices.

Chief academic officer Jocelyn Cosgrave said the report card is the "quantitative view of our story" while the district's recently released quality profile on the district website "is the qualitative view."

"I encourage parents to look at it as if all the data was combined, both qualitative and quantitative," she said. "They give two different viewpoints and both are important."

The quality profile points out that Reynoldsburg was the first district in Ohio to offer a K-12 STEM pipeline, since Summit Road and Herbert Mills Elementary Schools were named STEM-designated by the Ohio Department of Education, along with STEM Middle at Baldwin Road Junior High School and eSTEM and (HS)2 Academies at the high school.

It also states the class of 2018 consisted of 535 graduates who earned more than $8.9 million in scholarships and almost 4,103 college credits. Students also completed 168 internships.

Digging into data

Cosgrave said it is important to dig deeper into report card grades.

The overall D grade on the state report card was calculated from an A in graduation rates, a D in achievement, a D in K-3 literacy, a B in gap-closing and F grades in progress and prepared for success.

Reynoldsburg achieved passing scores on only two of 24 state indicators -- high school government and end-of-course progress. Other indicators were individual tests at each grade level in English, math, history and science, where not enough students achieved scores of at least 80 percent.

The district's chronic absenteeism -- a new measure this year -- was at 18 percent; state guidelines call for less than 13.6 percent.

Reynoldsburg is not the only central Ohio district to receive dismal overall report card grades. Columbus City Schools received an F and Canal Winchester, South-Western and Whitehall also received D grades.

Delaware, Groveport Madison, Hilliard and Westerville City Schools received C grades.

Districts with B grades included Big Walnut, Dublin, Gahanna-Jefferson, Grandview Heights, Olentangy, Pickerington, Upper Arlington and Worthington.

The only A grades among central Ohio schools were earned in the Bexley and New Albany-Plain Local districts.

Cosgrave said there are some things on the report card to be proud of, including the A in graduation rates and the B in gap-closing, up from an F last year.

Gap-closing measures how well students of different races, economic backgrounds, ethnicities and disabilities performed on the tests.

"I am super proud of us for the gap-closing," she said. "We really took a close look at all of our students since last year and had more and more of the subgroups count in our measure."

The district's diverse student population includes 56 percent economically disadvantaged students and 38.5 percent students with disabilities, according to statistics on the state report card.

The F in progress measure is a big hurdle, however.

"It is the measure we are most frustrated by," Cosgrave said. "The state measures a year's growth for all of our students."

She said many Reynoldsburg elementary students are not showing at least a year's growth on the state's math and reading assessments.

Brown said he and administrators are looking at the district's entire instructional program to determine what is working and what isn't.

"We are working on a five-year strategic plan, which we hope to have done by December," he said. "We also are working on our freshman experience, which will be a huge step in creating high school readiness."

He said other initiatives also are next steps toward improvement, such as restoring team teaching at the middle school level, refreshing inclusion practices for special education, and adding more teacher coaches.

"This type of change does not happen in one night or in one year," he said. "Patience has to be stressed. We wish the changes we've made could demonstrate results faster, but in the 15 months since I got here, we have had a massive shift to improve our school and district culture.

"This report card is not an accurate depiction of all the work we do as a school district, which is what most superintendents in Ohio would agree (with), including those districts that received A grades," he said.

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