The Pickerington Local School District received similar marks on this year's state report card as last year and district officials continue to note the Ohio Department of Education's annual measuring stick is one of several tools they use to gauge teaching and learning success.

The district received an overall grade of a B on the state report card issued Sept. 13.

The report cards rate districts throughout the state on performance during the 2017-18 school year.

This year, it measured students' achievement, which is performance on state tests; gap closing, which is how well students from different economic backgrounds, race, ethnicity and disability perform; and progress, which is how much a school or district's students learned over a given time period.

Pickerington Superintendent Chris Briggs said, in general, the district "constantly" assesses students and teachers to gauge progress they're making toward educational goals.

He said the state report card isn't the only tool it uses for those purposes.

"We care about the report card because it's a benchmark, but beyond that letter or number on a computer screen or printout, what are we doing to make our students more well-rounded?" he said.

"What are we doing to address the needs of each individual student?

"That is an important reason why we are in the process of working with our community to create the Plan for Progress," Briggs said.

"We want our goals to reflect the goals of our staff and our community."

Pickerington received C's in achievement, progress and K-3 literacy, the latter of which ranks districts for how they improve kindergarten through third-grade reading for students identified as struggling readers who are at risk of staying on track to proficiency in third grade and beyond.

On last year's report card the district also received C's in achievement, progress and K-3 literacy.

The district also continued improvement in gap closing, receiving an A for the 2017-18 school year, after earning an F for 2015-16 and a B in 2016-17.

It also maintained an A in graduation rate, a mark it has earned on the past three report cards.

Additionally, the district went from a 78.7 percent on its performance index on last year's report card, to a 78.5 percent this year.

Performance index measures test results of every student, not just those who score proficient or higher.

The district did, however, slip from a C in prepared for success for the 2016-17 school year to a D on this year's report card. Prepared for success is a component that looks at how well prepared students are for "all future opportunities."

"As a district, we cannot and do not ignore the important data that makes up the Pickerington Schools report card," Briggs said. "As a district, we invest untold hours evaluating that data to identify where we're making progress.

"We also look for areas for improvement and adjust what and how we teach to affect change for our students."

Briggs and Pickerington's Executive Director of Teaching and Learning Sharon Caccimelio said part of the way the district seeks to improve teaching and learning is to listen to community members' expectations.

They said a recent community survey suggested parents and other residents want the district to focus less on standardized testing and that's why officials are touting a newly-developed Plan for Progress.

The district is currently in the "Research and Stakeholder Engagement" phase of developing the plan, which includes gathering feedback from the community.

With the second phase in November and February, members of multiple committees will develop and define initiatives, incorporating community feedback from Phase 1.

Implementation of the plan will begin in March.

"As I've described before, the Plan for Progress will be like a roadmap for our future; one that ensures we are attaining greater levels of efficiency, reaching a higher level of community trust and graduating students who are prepared for today's world," Briggs said.

Caccimelio said the Plan for Progress will include three "core goals" centered around academic excellence, efficient operations and modern facilities.

"So, the areas of focus that comprise the state's report card will be highlighted in what we are accomplishing, but we will also be more well-rounded, from the administration all the way down to our youngest students," she said.

"By the end of the 2018-19 school year, we will have communicated back and forth with the community, defined and created goals and initiatives, presented an action plan, built awareness and committed to progress for our schools.

"If we are successful in developing and implementing the Plan for Progress, its results will be reflected not only on the state report cards, but in the breadth of opportunities and quality of education we are providing to our students."