New Albany-Plain Local students made progress last year but there still is room for improvement, district officials said Oct. 24.

New Albany-Plain Local students made progress last year but there still is room for improvement, district officials said Oct. 24.

“We don’t want to interrupt high levels of performance as we stretch for new heights,” Superintendent April Domine said.

Domine presented the district’s second academic-achievement report to the board at the Oct. 24 meeting. She said the district was rated “excellent” on the Ohio Department of Education’s state report card, and by analyzing data in the report, the district should be able to improve on its performance.

Domine reminded the board that the data does not provide answers. Instead, it requires the district to ask more questions before making improvements.

The academic-achievement report analyzes information from state testing, as well as ACT and SAT testing. Information in the report is compiled from the 2010-11 school year.

Details of the report will be posted on the district’s website this week, and Domine has scheduled a public forum at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 9, in Mershad Hall at the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts. Residents are invited to attend and ask questions.

Domine said there are several highlights from 2010-11. The district met all 26 indicators on the state report card. It achieved the highest performance index in its history, at 106.6, and, individually, NAHS had one of the highest performance indexes in the state at 111.8. The middle school and grades 2-3 also improved their performance-index scores from the year before. The performance index is a measure of how students in the district sd compared to state regulations.

The district also met adequate yearly progress (AYP) for students in most subgroups, which includes students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students, students who have limited English skills and several ethnic groups. It fell short with third-graders with disabilities, who failed to achieve required test scores in math and reading.

School board member Michael Klein asked if the district is investing enough money in the subgroups to achieve the AYP standard across all grades.

Domine said the district needs to study the students individually to determine why they are not achieving at state-mandated levels.

Klein again asked if the district had the resources to do that, and Domine responded that it is a challenge.

“With our flat-line hiring schedule, we’re working with the staff we have,” she said, adding that intervention teachers and programming are being added with grant dollars only.

Domine said the district has provided an all-day kindergarten program this year for at-risk students, and it reworked Title 1 grants to provide intervention teachers and more aides for the fourth and fifth grades.

“Rather than looking at dollar signs or individual (budget) lines, we need to be committed to investing in these students,” Klein said.

The district met the state’s value-added measure, which records individual student growth, but it lost its “excellent with distinction” rating, which it had achieved the past three years. The “with distinction” rating was lost because students in fifth, sixth and eighth grades did not meet the growth projections for their grade levels in math; eighth-graders also failed to achieve the growth projections in reading. Domine said the district needs to study the students who did achieve above anticipated growth — seventh-graders in math, fourth-graders in math and reading and fifth-graders in reading — to learn from them.

“There are areas we know we can learn and have high levels of growth,” Domine said. “We have the opportunity to learn from them.”

But, she said, the district should not be too quick to change without further analyzing the data. She said each piece of data needs to be evaluated based on four criteria: effectiveness of the curriculum; effectiveness of instruction; effectiveness of leadership; and quality of professional development and structure of the teaching.

Domine said the district set more specific goals for this year based on the academic-achievement report. The goals are:

• To increase the performance index by two points overall for the district, and at the 2-5 building and middle school.

• To improve value-added measures in math for fifth, sixth and eighth grades and in reading for eighth grade to “met” or “above expected” growth.

• To meet AYP for students with disabilities in third-grade reading and math.

• To improve proficiency rates in fifth-grade reading by 3 percent, science by 4 percent and math by 10 percent.

• To improve the Advanced Placement high school class participation rate by at least 20 percent and improve students’ scoring percentages.

• To increase the percentage of students taking the ACT to 85 percent and the percent of graduates reaching the college readiness benchmark by 3 percent.

For last year’s report, Domine said, the district achieved most of its 11 goals. Proficiency levels improved for: third- and fourth-grade reading; third- and fourth-grade math; sixth- and seventh-grade math; seventh- and eighth-grade reading; reading for students with disabilities in third, fourth, fifth and eighth grades; and math for students with disabilities in third, fourth, sixth, seventh and eighth grades and middle and high school science classes.

Also, grade levels that were not focused on for improvement last year had lowered proficiency scores in some areas.

Board member Natalie Matt asked if the district could have pulled too many resources away from other students while focusing on improvement.

Domine said the district need to analyze the data to determine if the drops were a “one-time thing.” If the same group of students showed steady improvement over time in previous years, then, Domine said, it could be an issue that year only.

Per last year’s goals, the district also closed identified educational gaps for: black, non-Hispanic students in sixth- and eighth-grade reading and 10th-grade math; economically disadvantaged students in 10th-grade reading and sixth-grade math; multiracial students in sixth- and 10th-grade reading and fourth- and 10th-grade math; and Asian students in eighth-grade reading and third- and eighth-grade math.

More students applied for high school AP classes, and the students who took those courses increased their scores on AP exams. Also, high school students taking the ACT and SAT scored the highest levels ever attained, according to the report.