Jackson Middle School jumped two levels on its latest state report card, from "effective" last year to "excellent with distinction," the highest rating available.

Jackson Middle School jumped two levels on its latest state report card, from "effective" last year to "excellent with distinction," the highest rating available.

Principal Emily Jablonka credits part of the improvement to an increase in scheduled meetings for teacher collaboration.

"It provided opportunity for the teachers to collaborate with one another," Jablonka said.

Departments at Jackson Middle, 2271 Holton Road, became more practiced during daily meetings focusing on grade level and content. Last school year, seventh- and eighth-grade teachers in their respective content areas started meeting 30 minutes per week.

During the meetings, teachers discussed curriculum and student progress and analyzed results of teacher-generated common assessment tests that focus on the Ohio Department of Education's content standards. Departments also held 90-minute meetings each month.

The school also implemented SOAR, a reading class for seventh- and eighth-grade at-risk students. Students who scored below proficient levels in the reading section of the Ohio Achievement Assessments participated, along with some students with learning disabilities in reading or writing. Last year, 32 seventh-graders and 26 eighth-graders participated.

"The students who were in the class felt confidence that they hadn't experienced prior to that," Jablonka said.

Six of the 26 eighth-graders who participated were proficient in the reading section of the OAA. After the class, 18 scored proficient or higher.

Similarly, the school started an OAA boost program for reading and math. Students who had struggled with passing reading or math portions of the OAA participated in the program 30 minutes twice a week for math or reading. Thirty seventh-graders and 39 eighth-graders participated last year.

The school also incorporated a new "Mathletes" program for high-achieving students.

"We really want to make sure they're still being challenged," Jablonka said.

The staff and students met before classes to focus on peer collaboration and problem-solving. Eleven seventh-graders and 13 eighth-graders participated. "It was really neat to watch them work together," Jablonka said.

Twelve of the 24 students increased their math OAA scores. The three teachers who participated in Mathletes were paid a $100 stipend for the morning hours before classes. Mathletes will be continued this school year.

Last year, all students increased their reading and reflection by participating in the DEAR program, or "Drop Everything and Read." The entire student population read silently for 20 minutes daily. This year, the school will expand the program to include 20 minutes of daily homeroom reading.

Buckeye Woods Elementary School, 2525 Holton Road, was the only other building in the district to receive the "excellent with distinction" rating.

Ranging from lowest to highest, state report card designation levels include "academic emergency," "academic watch," "continuous improvement," "effective," "excellent" and "excellent with distinction."