Reynoldsburg schools won't be considered "excellent with distinction" when the state raises the bar on accountability standards for the new report card and replaces ratings with letter grades.

Reynoldsburg schools won't be considered "excellent with distinction" when the state raises the bar on accountability standards for the new report card and replaces ratings with letter grades.

Superintendent Steve Dackin said he is confident, however, that Reynoldsburg's teachers and students will rise to the challenge.

The new state report card is scheduled to come out in late August.

Dackin said school districts will be given A-F grades in six different categories: achievement, progress, gap closing, graduation rate, K-3 literacy and prepared for success.

"The report card is changing dramatically as the state increases the level of attainment," he said. "To get an A this year in achievement, you would have to have a performance index of 108.

"I am all for those changes, because it is all about raising the bar," he said.

Reynoldsburg schools earned a performance index score of 101.3 on the last state report card, an improvement over the previous year's score of 100.3.

The district met 26 of 26 state performance indicators and scored "above" in value added, which indicates that students achieved more than a year's growth in an academic year.

On the new report card, the performance index falls under the achievement component. Letter grades will be based on student performance on state achievement tests. In the past, at least 75 percent of students had to score "proficient" or better to get credit for each performance indicator.

Starting this fall, however, the state will require at least 80 percent of students to score at proficient levels on the achievement tests to pass the indicator.

The performance index score will measure the achievement of every student, so the higher the student's scores, the more points a school gets toward its index score, according to information from the Ohio Department of Education.

Districts will get letter grades in all six components, but no overall letter grade will be given until August 2015, which state leaders said will give districts a chance to adjust to the new system.

"I'm confident we will get an A because we get things moving in Reynoldsburg," Dackin said. "I'm not quite ready to announce where we are with the preliminary results, but I can say we hit all the indicators in a similar way as last year and are ahead on some.

"Our performance index will continue to be over 100 and in K-3 literacy it looks like we will get some pretty impressive results," he said.

The gap closing component will replace adequate yearly progress, which measured performance of various student groups, according to racial, ethnic or disability status.

A school district will not be able to get an A on gap closing if even one of its student groups is not reaching the goal set for all students in reading, math and graduation rates.

On last year's report card, Reynoldsburg schools missed the state benchmark for reading scores for students with disabilities.

Dackin said he knows students and teachers will rise to the challenges presented by the state's new grading system.

"I am really pleased with our teachers and how hard they are working with students to help them achieve," he said.

Rewarding performance was behind a school board vote June 18 to give certified staff members, teachers, guidance counselors and nurses bonus checks amounting to 1 percent of their salaries.

The Reynoldsburg Board of Education voted 4-1 to give out the one-time bonus checks, which will cost the district about $220,000, said Tricia Moore, director of shared services and partnerships.

Board Vice President Elaine Tornero cast the only dissenting vote.

"The staff members will get the checks in a lump sum in September," Moore said. "These are one-time bonus payments to recognize and reward teachers for performance during the past school year, in helping students achieve 'excellent with distinction' on the state report card."

Moore said this is the third year of a teachers' contract that froze step increases and cost-of-living raises, which saved the district $8 million over the life of the contract.

"We are in better financial shape this year than when that contract was first negotiated," she said. "The teachers made a lot of concessions during the negotiations to make that happen."

She said the contract was one of three things that contributed to the district's brighter financial outlook this year, along with open enrollment and departmental budget cuts.

Dackin said Reynoldsburg teachers "stepped up and helped us when we needed help with our finances."

"We promised residents we would have a positive cash balance and not go back to the voters until 2014 and the teachers helped us with that," he said. "We wanted to do something that shows our gratitude."