Westerville’s Performance Remains Strong on Redesigned State Report Card

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The Westerville City School District’s latest state report card indicates that students once again attained high levels of academic achievement during the 2013-2014 school year, but also revealed areas that need evaluation and improvement.  The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) last week released its revamped report cards for all Ohio public schools and school districts.  Westerville earned five A’s, three B’s and one F.

Eighty percent of students now must pass state tests for a school/district to meet the state indicator.  This is up from 75 percent in prior years.  Dr. Richard A. Ross, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, said “Some districts and schools will see lower grades on their report cards this year in certain areas because Ohio has raised the bar. The goal is to continually challenge the 1.6 million girls and boys in Ohio’s classrooms and make sure they are prepared to succeed as they complete school and graduate to college and careers.”

Westerville earned straight A’s in the Progress category, which grades each school district’s average progress for its students in math and reading, grades 4-8.  It looks at how much each pupil learns in a year and whether they got a year’s worth of growth, less than a year, or more than a year. Westerville’s straight A’s in Progress means that on average, students are gaining significantly more than a year’s worth of growth each school year.  Value-Added scores for Westerville got the top ranking on Overall, Gifted, Students with Disabilities, and Lowest 20 Percent in Achievement.  This marks an improvement from last year’s Gifted Value-Added grade, when Westerville earned a C.

Westerville’s Graduation Rate received a B for 90.2 percent of students having graduated in four years; and an A for 95 percent of students having graduated in five years.  Last year Westerville earned B’s for both four and five-year graduation rates. 

The Achievement ranking combines two results for students who took the state test.  Westerville’s Performance Index score of 103, which reflects how well students did on Ohio Achievement Assessments and the Ohio Graduation Test, earned a B from the state (85.8 percent).  The district also earned a B for Indicators Met (87.5 percent), which reflects the percentage of students who passed each assessment.  This compares to last year’s grades of B and A, respectively.

Westerville City Schools received an F on the Gap Closing component, compared to a C last year, with annual measurable objectives scoring at 54 percent.  This grade reflects how well students are doing in reading, math and graduation, regardless of income, race, ethnicity or disability.  Dr. John Kellogg, Westerville’s Superintendent, expressed disappointment in this grade.  “Our actual performance on this measure is comparable to the prior year for which we received a C grade,” he explained.  “However, as this is one of the areas where the bar has been raised by the state, this year’s grade dropped.  We will be working to identify what factors are preventing us from achieving at higher levels, and then addressing those factors.”  Dr. Kellogg said a presentation would be made at a Board of Education meeting in October to discuss the Report Card and the district’s strategies for improvement. 

The 2014 report cards eventually will include grades for 10 measures, including Performance Index, Value-Added and Graduation Rate.  Overall school and district grades will not be calculated until 2016 to give districts time to adjust to new learning standards and new state tests. Grades also are included for career technical planning districts and dropout recovery schools.

New this year is Prepared for Success data that tells communities whether their local schools are keeping K-12 students on track to be ready for college or careers at graduation.  This category, however, is not graded.  The Prepared for Success measure lists how many of last year’s students received a college-ready score on the ACT and SAT college admissions exams; how many students earned honors diplomas; and how many career-tech pupils earned the credentials  required to work in various industries.  The measure also reflects student performance on Advanced Placement exams and how many students took courses that offered both high school and college credit.

The K-3 Literacy measure, new this year, focuses on students in the primary grades who are diagnosed as reading below their grade levels at the beginning of school and tracks whether their reading improved over the course of last school year.  After reviewing the K-3 Literacy data they had submitted, several school districts uncovered errors and alerted the ODE.  Given that grades for this measure are calculated using an average of all schools’ reported data, errors made by one school can affect the letter grades of all others.  As a result, the department is reporting this data on a preliminary basis and will calculate letter grades at a later time once all data is confirmed.

Grades and data for all schools and districts, including community schools, are being released on Ohio’s interactive report card site, reportcard.education.ohio.gov.  The interactive report cards have been enhanced for 2014 to include new measures that offer parents more information.