MT officials discuss report card

By Ryan Carter -

Over the past several years, the complexities of the Ohio Department of Education’s (ODE) district report cards have made it more challenging to discern what constitutes a positive or negative data-based conclusion.

The ODE states these recently-released report cards are designed to give communities “a clear picture of the progress of your district 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.”

For the Miami Trace Local School District and many other districts, the outlook has somewhat changed.

“In the past, high achieving districts were receiving ratings of ‘excellent’ or ‘excellent with distinction’, including Miami Trace. Many districts were reaching this standard, but the state didn’t feel that it was a true reflection of student achievement,” said Miami Trace Superintendent David Lewis. “With the new report card format, we like to evaluate where we rank in comparison to area districts, as well as the districts that ODE says are most similar to us. This provides us with a legitimate comparison for evaluating our results. With this in mind, I think we stack up pretty well. Obviously, anytime you get a ‘D’ or an ‘F’ you are concerned. That’s not our expectation at Miami Trace. As long as we are in the top tier with our comparable districts, we are satisfied. However, we can always make improvements and will continue to work hard in preparing our students for success”.

Lewis and Miami Trace Assistant Superintendent Kim Pittser recently sat down with the Record-Herald to discuss the district’s 2016-17 report card results.

“There is no overall grade assigned until the fall of 2018,” Pittser said. “ODE’s goal is to provide one overall letter grade from these six components in the fall of 2018. There is a different formula for every component, which makes the local report card more complex.”

The six components are: Achievement, Progress, Gap Closing, Graduation Rate, K-3 Literacy, and Prepared for Success.

The Achievement component represents the number of students who passed the state tests and how well they performed on those tests based on performance levels. Performance index and indicators met are the two pieces of the Achievement component. The performance index measures the test results of every student, not just those who score proficient or higher. There are six levels on the index and districts receive points for every student in each of these levels. The higher the achievement level the more points awarded in the district’s index.

Miami Trace gained 91.2 points out of a possible 120 points (76 percent), which was good for a “C” grade in performance index.

Indicators met measures the percentage of students who have passed state tests. The passage rate for each indicator is 80 percent, which is a higher cut than what was used on the old report card.

In third grade, 69.1 percent passed English language arts and 82.1 percent passed mathematics. In fourth grade, 67.9 percent passed English language arts, 92.4 percent passed mathematics, and 98.2 percent passed social studies. In fifth grade, 75.7 percent passed English language arts, 70.6 percent passed mathematics, and 80.5 percent passed science.

In sixth grade, 68.1 percent passed English language arts, 75.6 percent passed mathematics, and 70.5 percent passed social studies. In seventh grade, 59.7 percent passed English language arts and 64.1 percent passed mathematics. In eighth grade, 52 percent passed English language arts, 53.2 percent passed mathematics, and 67.4 percent passed science.

At the high school, 50.3 percent passed Algebra I, 70.6 percent passed biology, 69.2 percent passed English I, 64 percent passed English II, 70.3 percent passed geometry, 61.7 percent passed government, and 74.7 percent passed history.

Therefore, third grade mathematics, fourth grade mathematics and social studies, and fifth grade science were the four indicators met out of 24 for a 16.7 percent success rate.

The four indicators met resulted in an “F” grade for Miami Trace in the indicators met piece. To put that into perspective, Adams County schools, Blanchester, Bright Local, Clinton-Massie, East Clinton, Fairfield Local, Greenfield, Hillsboro City, Lynchburg-Clay, Washington C.H. and Wilmington all had “Fs” in the state indicators met category.

“In the overall component grade for Achievement, we did fairly well in PI, so you can stay afloat with the weighted formula of PI being 75 percent and indicators met being 25 percent,” said Pittser. “So when they combined the PI and indicators met, we earned a C.”

For comparison, Blanchester, Clinton-Massie, Fairfield Local, and Lynchburg-Clay also earned “Cs” in the Achievement component. “Ds” were given to Adams County, Bright Local, East Clinton, Greenfield, Hillsboro City, Washington C.H., and Wilmington.

The Progress Component looks closely at the growth that all students are making based on their past performances. In overall progress, which measures the progress for all students in math, ELA, science and social studies using tests in grades 4-8 and some end-of-course exams, Miami Trace earned an “A.” In gifted students progress, which measures the progress for students identified as gifted in reading, math, science, social studies and/or superior cognitive ability, Miami Trace also earned an “A.”

In students in the lowest 20 percent in achievement, which measures the progress for students identified as the lowest 20 percent statewide in reading, math, science or social studies achievement, Miami Trace earned an “A.” In students with disabilities progress, Miami Trace earned a “C.”

The overall Progress component grade for Miami Trace was a “B.”

“The progress component is growth,” said Pittser. “Every student has his or her own target based off the formula that’s used from previous test scores or from previous data points.”

The Gap Closing component shows how well schools are meeting the performance expectations for the most vulnerable populations of students in English language arts, math and graduation.

“The Gap Closing measures all of the subgroups that are within the district and how well they are doing,” said Pittser.

These subgroups include white, economically disadvantaged, Hispanic, all students, multiracial, and students with disabilities. Miami Trace achieved a 73.7 percent success rate overall in the Gap Closing component for a “C” grade.

The Graduation Rate component looks at the percentage of students who are successfully finishing high school with a diploma in four or five years. Miami Trace graduated 93.9 percent of the Class of 2016 within four years and graduated 96.1 percent of the Class of 2015 within five years. These impressive rates earned the district an “A” in the Graduation Rate component. Graduation Rate data is lagged data, so the Class of 2017 will appear on next year’s report card.

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. Miami Trace finished with a 40.6 percent rate in this component, good for a “C” grade.

Finally, the Prepared for Success component, whether training in a technical field or preparing for work for college, looks at how well prepared Ohio’s students are for all future opportunities.

“This component has two layers to it, the first layer is being remediation free on the ACT or SAT,” said Pittser. “Earning an honors diploma or earning an industry-recognized credential. If students do one of those things, they meet the indicator so to speak, so full credit for that student is earned. Our honors diploma percentage has maintained. But this is a very complex formula when it comes to determining the overall letter grade. The other layer involves students who take Advanced Placement or AP tests or earn credits in College Credit Plus courses.”

Miami Trace received a “D” overall in the Prepared for Success component.

“We predict this component to increase for this time next year because this is lag data,” Pittser said. “We had our action plan in place this past year so this is year two of our action plan. I think it’s fair to say that in our district, we keep our focus on serving our students. When you serve your students and keep them your priority, while strategizing for what’s on the report card, things will fall in place.”

Pittser and Lewis said they believe their school-wide action plan will assist the district moving forward in the local report cards.

“Kim and our curriculum directors really crunch through the data. After that, Kim and I set up meetings with the administrative team from each building to discuss the data, and evaluate the steps and action plans they wish to implement. We talk about new programs and initiatives, diagnostic tools, and progress monitoring tools,” said Lewis. “The frustrating part about the report card is that it’s always a moving target. We will always focus on doing what is best for our students, and hopefully our efforts are reflected on the report card. In my opinion, the state report card is only one element that is used in evaluating the overall value and successes of a school district.”

By Ryan Carter

Reach Ryan Carter at 740-313-0352 or on Twitter @rywica

Reach Ryan Carter at 740-313-0352 or on Twitter @rywica