The Westerville City School District received an overall grade of C on the latest state report card issued Sept. 13 by the Ohio Department of Education.

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

"Our performance on this report card remained relatively steady, though there are a few highlights this year," said John Kellogg, district superintendent. "Our grade for gap closing went from an F last year to a B this year, so we've made significant progress in that area."

He said the graduation rate held steady at a B, but the district did pick up a bit of ground in both the four-year and five-year graduation-rate percentages.

"We also met one more state testing indicator than last year, and we held steady with a grade of C for our performance index," he said.

This latest release of the grade card marks the first time schools and districts have been assigned overall letter grades.

The overall grade is determined by results from the report card's six components including 20 percent from achievement and progress, and 15 percent from graduation rate and prepared for success.

Grades for individual Westerville schools include: North High School, C; Central and South high schools, D; Blendon and Genoa middle schools, C; Heritage and Walnut Springs middle schools, D; Whittier Elementary School, A; Alcott, Emerson, Fouse, Mark Twain elementary schools, B; Cherrington, Hanby, Hawthorne, Huber Ridge, McVay, Robert Frost and Wilder elementary schools, C; and Annehurst and Pointview elementary schools, D.

"Now that we have the state's official results, we still have quite a bit of analysis to do," Kellogg said. "The state has implemented a few higher standards on this year's report card, so for any areas we lost ground, we will determine if that was a true decrease in performance from last year or if it was the result of an increased state standard."

He said the analysis will happen at the district buildings.

"There are still a few things we have to figure out regarding this report, such as how we went from a C last year to a D this year in the prepared for success component when the data indicate that we actually performed better than last year," Kellogg said.

Jennifer Knapp, Westerville's director of curriculum and instruction, said there's a regular curriculum review cycle and process to make sure the district is meeting the state requirements and to implement changes the state has made in the standards.

"We then research and select the curricular materials that we believe are the best for conveying the content to students and support student learning needs," she said. "We work closely with our professional educators in the classroom to make sure they understand the content standards and best utilize the materials so they can instruct effectively."

Knapp said the district's philosophy is not to "teach to the test," but to take a comprehensive approach to instruction.

"Some of the data we receive from the state report card is valuable to our improvement efforts, but I can't say that report card results are what drive our curriculum changes," she said. "Beyond meeting state-required curriculum, our academic program is more of a reflection of what our community desires for their children."

Kellogg said the district will learn a lot more about the latest report cards after seeing the results of other districts.

"If we follow the trends we're seeing from others, then it's highly likely our collective results are being impacted by adjustments that the state has made to the evaluation system itself," he said.

"However, if we see that we're an outlier in any area, such as if our scores on any given test drop significantly, but everyone else's scores on that same test increase, then that's when we really have to dig into the data to identify the cause," he said.

Kellogg said Westerville hasn't had to investigate over the years because the district's results have trended closely with what he has seen across the state and in similar districts.