A rating of "Excellent with Distinction" was earned by the Hilliard City School District for the second year in a row when results of the state's 2008-09 Local Report Card were released on Aug. 20.

A rating of "Excellent with Distinction" was earned by the Hilliard City School District for the second year in a row when results of the state's 2008-09 Local Report Card were released on Aug. 20.

The rating is the highest available from the Ohio Department of Education (ODE).

Assistant Superintendent Andy Riggle said the district met 29 of 30 indicators on the report card this year, having met a perfect 30 of 30 last year.

Last year the district's performance index score (PIS) reached the highest level ever with 101, but this year it was even better with 101.5.

A PIS of 100 or above indicates that a large percentage of the students scored within the highest performance levels of accelerated or advanced on state achievement testing, according to a press release issued by coordinator of school and community relations Carrie Bartunek.

"We are thrilled to receive the highest rating possible for the second year in a row," said Superintendent Dale A. McVey. "As the ninth largest district in the state with ever growing diversity, this is an exceptional accomplishment. The credit goes to our hard-working students, staff and supportive community who continue to raise the bar and set the standard for excellent education in our district."

All 21 Hilliard schools received a PIS of 94 or higher with six schools rated "Excellent with Distinction," eight schools rated "Excellent," six schools rated "Effective" and one rated "Continuous Improvement."

Davidson High School was rated "Continuous Improvement," because it failed to meet the Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) by one student in two separate subgroups - the economic disadvantaged and special needs students.

If a school does not meet AYP for several consecutive years, Riggle said, then the state lowers the district rating.

Riggle said Davidson met 12 of the 12 indicators at the high school level, while McVey said its PIS was 107.1 with an enrollment which exceeded 2,200 students.

"It just so happens to be that they missed AYP for three consecutive years," said Riggle.

He stressed that the number of AYP subgroups missed by the high school was decreased by two from the previous year.

McVey pointed out that last year the high school was listed in U.S. News & World Report as one of the best high schools in the nation.

"By evidence of their performance, I think they are a high school that reflects excellence," said McVey.

The district, with its population of more than 15,400 students serving about 1,040 English Language Learners from 47 different countries and speaking 37 different languages, serves about 2,500 economic disadvantaged students with about 1,800 special needs students.

As the district met the AYP, Riggle said, that means it is growing and meeting the performance growth target for the subgroups as a whole.

Value added was factored into the report card last year and this year was the first time they can compare the results from one year to the next as part of a district's overall performance and in connection to the rating, according to McVey.

Third grade is the baseline, Riggle said, and it is a measurement of progress over time verses a measurement of progress in time.

"The foundational piece to that is 'Are we growing students a full year academically each year?'" he said.

Based on this year's calculations, he said, students in AYP subgroups are proving to be on target to meet proficiency in the future.

The value added growth expectations, which the district exceeded, moves districts into the "distinction" category, according to McVey and Riggle.

Preliminary results released in July of last year suggested the district received a perfect score with the highest PIS ever but it was not enough to earn the "excellent with distinction" status among Ohio schools.

McVey and Riggle were disappointed to announce that the district would be rated "continuous improvement," because it failed to meet AYP.

Then Riggle learned on Aug. 15 of 2008 with confirmed data that AYP had been met by the district. The following Monday, during convocation, McVey announced to the district's staff that a rating of "Excellent with Distinction" was earned after all.

The news left even the board members reeling.

Board President Denise Bobbitt said she thought McVey had made an error in the information he released, until he gave a further explanation.

McVey said the information this year is final and there will be no surprises in a couple of weeks.

All of the departments work together to support the education in the buildings, McVey said, making them proud of the "distinction" component.