‘Room for improvement’ on WCH report card


By Martin Graham - mgraham@aimmediamidwest.com



Washington City Schools Superintendent Tom Bailey said the district does not like the scores on its recent Ohio Department of Education district report card, but found some bright spots within the results.

According to reportcard.education.ohio.gov, Ohio School Report Cards give the community a picture of the progress of local districts and schools in raising achievement and preparing students for the future. The information measures district and school performance in the areas most critical to success in learning. Ohio School Report Cards data shows educators, school administrators and families where their schools are succeeding as well as areas where they need to improve.

Ohio School Report Cards are divided up into six components: Achievement, Gap Closing, K-3 Literacy, Progress, Graduation Rate and Prepared for Success.

According to the website: “The Achievement component represents the number of students who passed the state tests and how well they performed on them. The Gap Closing component shows how well schools are meeting the performance expectations for our most vulnerable populations of students in English language arts, math and graduation. The K-3 Literacy component looks at how successful the school is at getting struggling readers on track to proficiency in third grade and beyond. The Progress component looks closely at the growth that all students are making based on their past performances. The Graduation Rate component looks at the percent of students who are successfully finishing high school with a diploma in four or five years. And finally, whether training in a technical field or preparing for work or college, the Prepared for Success component looks at how well prepared Ohio’s students are for all future opportunities.”

“Typically, a lot of people go straight to the achievement component because that is equatable to the old report cards,” Bailey said. “We had 25 indicators this year, and we met zero of those. We lost several indicators because we were meeting the OGT (Ohio Graduation Test) indicators, but those are no longer on the report card.”

Overall, Washington City Schools had a “D” letter grade in achievement. Bailey said the bright spot in this component was the performance index, something Bailey values highly, because it tells the district the percentage of students in each testing category. This will allow the district to know the number of students who are testing at the limited, basic, proficient, accelerated, advanced and advanced-plus levels.

The performance index is higher from last year, at 67.2 percent, which is determined by taking the percentage of kids in each testing level and assigning points based on the level. More points are awarded for advanced plus and no points for untested kids, with various numbers in between for all other levels. Out of 120 possible points, Washington City Schools earned 80.6 points. According to the index, the majority of students fall in basic, proficient and accelerated, but 21.2 percent of students tested at limited achievement level.

“The fact we have a higher score means we have moved students up from one category to another, which is good,” Bailey said. “If you had all of your students at advanced or advanced-plus you would be a lot closer to an ‘A’ in the index. We were in the mid-70’s (in point accumulation) last year and have gotten over 80 this year so we are moving kids up.”

Bailey said the other indicator that students are growing in is the progress component grade, which he suggested is an indicator the state looks at highly. This component looks at the growth that all students are making based on past performances. To notice the growth, Bailey said the letter grade is a great way to see this. For the state, a “C” letter grade is equivalent to one year in growth and is the average. Anything better than a “C” indicates growth equal to more than one year from the previous year.

“In the students with disabilities section we got a ‘C’ which means they grew one year,” Bailey said. “The fact that we got an ‘A’ in both overall and gifted students means that we are moving those students closer to two years. So I am confident that we are on the right track and that we are growing kids individually. Now what we need to see happen is that it translates into a higher performance index, which will eventually get us to a higher achievement because we will get more kids passing their state test.”

The other grades received on the report card were an ‘F’ in Gap Closing, a ‘B’ in graduation rate, a ‘C’ in K-3 Literacy, and a ‘D’ in Prepared for Success. Bailey said they are working to help raise some of these grades and are making various decisions to start this process now. One of these decisions, to specifically help improve K-3 Literacy, is by ensuring the students are actually testing the way they are learning to test. Currently the students are learning on one program, but test using a different program. Bailey said helping to ensure the students have as little trouble taking tests as possible will allow them to perform better.

One issue with the report card system, which was brought up a few years ago when a southwestern Ohio school district was receiving lower grades than normal, is that it doesn’t paint a full picture of the district. After wanting to show investors and its community that it was more than just these grades, this district created a “Quality Profile” that highlighted student achievements in areas other than state testing and graduation. These have since become recognized by the state and this year, Washington City Schools created a profile of its own highlighting many aspects of the most recent year of school.

According to the quality profile for the 2016-17 school year:

The district had 9 percent of the students identified as gifted, 19 percent identified with disabilities and 56 percent of students who qualified for free and reduced lunch.

The class of 2017 received over $74,000 in college scholarships.

The Washington High School has been the recipient of OHSAA’s “Respect the game” Award for the last three years.

Junior bowler Brandon Underwood bowled a perfect 300 game in a varsity match and placed 16th in the state tournament in 2017.

In the Washington City Schools vocal music programs, the high school women’s chorus, five high school soloists, the seventh and eighth grade choirs and 20 middle school students all received a “Superior (1) rating” at OMEA contests.

In the Washington City Schools band programs, the symphonic and concert bands at the high school, five high school students, the seventh and eighth grade bands and 20 middle school students all received a “Superior (1) rating” at OMEA contests.

For musicals at the high school and middle school, over 100 students participated in the productions of Catch me if you Can and The Wizard of Oz.

In the Washington Middle School, one student won the Fayette County Soil and Water Conservation district poster contest and several others helped design the new logo for the Fayette County Parks District.

Finally, the district highlighted its fiscal stewardship as it has not asked the community for additional operating dollars since 1991 and has received the state auditor’s award for fiscal years 2015 and 2016, and a clean audit for 2017.

“I think there is a great deal of improvement that can happen, but we have some things in place,” Bailey said. “We have instructional coaches that are coming into the district to explain best practices in terms of how teachers teach. This is being implemented strongly at the primary and intermediate schools. We beefed up our literacy team, so we are excited about that. We have introduced some new curriculum in math at Belle Aire. We have also taken the ELA program that was at Cherry Hill, and was very successful, to Belle Aire. We think we are going to see big dividends. Our goal by Christmas is to get a computer into each third grader’s hands so we can continue that training in technology for taking tests. We have a lot to do, but I think we are on the right path.”

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By Martin Graham

mgraham@aimmediamidwest.com

Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy

Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy