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Local schools: Improvement shown on test scores

Although official school district report cards are being delayed until the Ohio Department of Education concludes an investigation into attendance reporting, preliminary data released this week indicates local school districts showed some improvement.

REPORT-CARDS 928

Benjamin Logan met all 25 indicators while Bellefontaine, Indian Lake and West Liberty-Salem each missed in only one category. Riverside met 21 of the 25 indicators.

The bulk of the indicators measure what percentage of students in grades 3 through 8 score proficient or above on the Ohio Achievement Test and what percentage of 10th and 11th grade students pass the Ohio Achievement Test. The final category released at this point is graduation rates for the 2010-11 school year.

Attendance data and an overall score such as “effective” or “excellent” was not released because of the ongoing statewide investigation.

The weakest area across the board was 5th-grade mathematics which was the only indicator both Bellefontaine and Indian Lake failed to score above 75 percent.

All five school districts exceeded the 90 percent graduation rate.

The report also shows Bellefontaine, Ben Logan and Riverside met the Adequate Yearly Progress component and Bellefontaine, Ben Logan and Indian Lake achieved the Value-Added Growth measure.

Bellefontaine City

Bellefontaine City School District administrators said they are “very pleased” with the progress shown with this year’s data. The district met 24 out of the 25 indicators this year, or 96 percent, a large jump from the 18 out of 26 indicators met last year, or 69 percent.

“We’re just tickled to death,” Superintendent Beth Harman said Thursday. “Things are looking very good.

“This is a team effort, and I’ve put a huge thank you out to all of our staff. We have wonderful students that deserve the dedicated efforts of our staff members.”

Throughout last school year, the superintendent said reading and math continued to be focus areas for instruction.

In addition, special efforts were put in place to improve science scores, Mrs. Harman noted. On the report card for the 2010-11 school year, the district had failed to meet science indicators for grades 5 and 8 and also on the Ohio Graduation Test for high school students.

“We had a weakness in science, and Dennis (Showalter) put programs in place to help us address these issues,” she said of the recently retired executive director of instructional services.

Following the targeted science instruction, BCS showed marked improvements in its 2011-12 data, with students achieving all science indicators.

Benjamin Logan

“We are very, very pleased with the preliminary reports and the improvements seen at Benjamin Logan,” Superintendent Lori Lytle said. “Our staff worked incredibly hard.

“It is so difficult to stay ahead of the state’s constantly changing accountability system. Our focus will remain on what is best for each child.”

Scores in nearly every category were up over 2011 numbers, with the district meeting 25 out of the 25 indicators, but administrators are not resting on their laurels.

“In a school system of our size, one or two students can make a difference in a rating. We will remain focused on individual areas of growth as well as an overall need, too, and our scores reflected this with our progress.

“Upcoming testing changes have us continuing to examine every aspect of what we are doing, and we know there is still a lot ahead. But for now, we want to enjoy the progress our students have made.”

Indian Lake, West Liberty-Salem

Superintendents at Indian Lake and West Liberty-Salem believe strong showings based on available data could garner their respective schools with ‘excellent’ or even ‘excellent with distinction’ ratings from the state.

“Obviously the rating isn’t released yet, but we believe based on the information we have that the district will be rated excellent with distinction,” Indian Lake Superintendent Pat O’Donnell said.

Both schools met 24 of 25 possible indicators, while also meeting adequate yearly progress. They were the only two schools county-wide to satisfy the AYP requirement, which measures the progress of the student population as a whole as well as specific sub-groups including developmentally disabled and economically disadvantaged students. 

“It was the second year in a row we met AYP and the value-added measure,” WL-Salem Superintendent Kraig Hissong said. “We’re all really excited and proud of the hard work put in by all of our staff.”

The lone indicator missed by West Liberty — eighth-grade science — came in just one percentage point under the state requirement.

“It was a near miss,” Mr. Hissong added, “but I know our staff and students will work hard to get that corrected for next year.

“Overall, we’re real pleased.”

Indian Lake’s one missed indicator was in fifth-grade math.

“That’s a sticking point for a lot of schools, and we’ll have to work on it,” Mr. O’Donnell said. “We improved in a lot of different areas though, which shows in our ‘above’ value-added score.”

Value-added is a factor intended to measure an individual student’s growth from year-to-year. Mr. O’Donnell said staff development training made possible by Race to the Top grant funds helped improve the learning environment for students.

“It’s a testament to the hard work of our staff,” Mr. O’Donnell said. “They identified areas of struggle and worked hard to hit those areas.”

Both superintendents are anxious for the final results from the state.

“Hopefully those come sooner rather than later,” Mr. Hissong concluded.

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