Last Thursday the State of Ohio released the 2012-2013 school and district report cards. For the first time school districts were rated using a traditional letter grade (A-F) in nine different categories. Letter grades have been used in other states across the country and recently there has been quite a bit of controversy around those designations in Indiana, Florida and Oklahoma.
Nevertheless, Worthington’s letter grades were released last week and I told Jennifer Wene that this may have been the first report card I have ever received with 5 A’s on it. Our report card is a mixed bag. The new system is designed to provide specific feedback to districts on where they need to improve and to provide parents with a transparent measure of performance. It’s still complicated.
To begin with Worthington’s achievement and growth scores were excellent. Under the old system we would have been again rated as “Excellent with Distinction!” Our students met and surpassed all achievement indicators and our students exceeded their expected value added growth. It’s that second measure we are most proud of. In the new system we earned an “A” for achievement and we earned 4 A’s for value added growth. All students, our gifted students, our students with disabilities, and our student’s in the lowest 20% of achievement, exceeded their projected growth.
In Worthington we have articulated a vision of annual growth for all students and catch-up growth for those behind. Our value added ratings show that all students in Worthington are growing and that they are growing farther than they are expected to. No matter if your child came to Worthington Schools last year ahead of their peers, or behind their peers, they made more than expected progress. That was our goal, and in that area, our principals and teachers hit a grand slam! According to research completed by Board or Education Member, Marc Schare, Worthington is one of only 8 (of 614) districts in the entire state to receive 4 A’s in the student growth component of the report card, and the only district in Central Ohio with this distinction. Our students are growing. All of them!
In the areas of Performance Index and 4 and 5 year graduation rates, Worthington was rated as a “B.” Our Performance Index was reported as a 103.9. We are contesting some of the data as we reported it incorrectly and in a few weeks when the final calculation comes out we expect to have a PI of 104.1 or 104.2. This would be our highest ever PI but still rated as a “B.” For the district this is where we will probably end up as the cut score for an “A” rating is more than aspirational based on our current numbers. We also received a “B” rating in graduation rate. There are many reasons for this but ultimately we are not satisfied with our numbers here and we expect to make changes and improve these grades before next year’s release.
Finally, we received a “D” in the gap closing category called AMO. While I personally have received many D’s, Worthington Schools is not accustomed to such a rating. The AMO sets specific proficiency targets for reading and math tests and for graduation rates. This measure applies to each racial/ethnic subgroup and to students from low-income families, students with disabilities and students learning English. While all of our students exceeded their value added expectations some of our subgroups have not yet achieved at the proficiency level the state sets for us. This is a difficult area and there are no simple solutions, however Worthington is completely committed to helping every single student grow and meet the achievement measure. We will work tirelessly to make that happen.
The report card is one measure of feedback for us that will help us focus and improve. The district culture/climate surveys provide a different measure of feedback, our voters on Election Day provide feedback, and everyday parents provide us feedback verbally and in written form. We’re proud that all students in Worthington are exceeding their expected growth, but we’ll never be satisfied. Left foot, right foot. Every day we’ll continue to get a little bit better.