The South-Western City School District improved its overall letter grade from a D to C on the latest report card released Sept. 12 by the Ohio Department of Education.

The report card includes data from the 2018-19 school year.

This is the second year for the overall letter grade, according to ODE's "Guide to the 2019 Ohio School Report Cards" at education.ohio.gov.

The improvement in the overall grade is an indication "we're moving in the right direction," said Brad Faust, the district's assistant superintendent of curriculum.

Such initiatives as the district's participation over the past two summer playing host to the Teachers College professional development program offered by Columbia University and developing a framework for personalizing learning in the district have paid dividends, he said.

A total of 150 teachers in grades K-8 have participated in the Teachers College program to help develop strategies encouraging students to be more engaged in improving their reading and writing skills.

"We've put a focus on what's happening between our classroom walls and how we can help our teachers better serve the instructional needs of their students, and it's paying off," Faust said.

South-Western received an A grade in the progress component, which looks closely at the growth all students are making based on their past performances.

Last year, the district received a D in the category.

"That's a significant achievement for our district, given that we've increased the rigor of our curriculum" to meet changes in state testing standards, Faust said.

The district maintained a D grade in the achievement component, which represents the number of students who passed the state's proficiency tests and how well they performed on them. It also includes an indicator that measures the percentage of students who miss too much school.

As part of the progress category, South-Western received a D for its performance-index score of 82.5 out of a possible 120. Last year, the district's performance-index score was 80.5.

The district met only one of 24 indicators to earn a F grade.

The indicators include state testing and districts must have at least 80% of its students pass a state test to meet that indicator.

The only indicator South-Western met was the end-of-course improvement indicator at the high school level.

The district's grades for the report card's other components include: gap closing, B; graduation rate, C; improving at-risk K-3 readers, C; and prepared for success, F.

The grades for those components were the same as last year's report card, except for improving at-risk K-3 readers, which was a B last year.

"We know that the state report card is a snapshot in time. It's an important and significant measure of a school district, but not the only measure you should look at to evaluate a district's performance," Faust said.

"There's no area on the state report card where we don't want to improve and where we're looking at the data to see how we can improve our program for students," he said. "We'll continue to strive to meet the demands of the grade card."

The improvement of the grade in the progress component should result in better results in other categories in future state report cards, Faust said.

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@ThisWeekAfroman

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2019 state report cards: central Ohio school districts