CW schools make academic gains

Following a year that saw the Canal Winchester Local School District drop from an "effective" rated district to one of "continuous improvement," 2007-08 found the district back with an "effective" designation on the latest state report card.

"We improved significantly in several areas," said Canal Winchester school board member Stan Smith. "It’s remarkable and a tribute to our students, faculty, and administration that we were able to make this much progress in a year and with a reduced budget and staff."

The Ohio Department of Education released the latest school year report card on Aug. 26 and the news was good for Canal Winchester students, staff, administrators, and parents. The district met 24 out of 30 indicators, achieved a performance index score of nearly 96 percent, and was above expected growth in a value-added measure category.

Indicators were based on state assessments-such as those administered in grades 3-8, and the Ohio Graduation Test (OGT)-as well as attendance and graduation rates. To earn an indicator, at least 75 percent of students must be proficient or above and a cumulative 85 percent passage rate is required for the 11th grade graduation test.

"In moving from continuous improvement to effective, we did it by targeting instruction and intervention for everybody," said Janine Taylor, curriculum director.

Third grade and sixth grade students tested above the state requirement in reading and mathematics. Fourth graders also passed their trio of assessments. Fifth graders passed the reading portion with 77 percent, but failed to meet state minimums in mathematics, science, and social studies. Seventh graders passed both reading and writing, but missed the mathematics section by more than seven percent.


Eighth graders passed reading and mathematics by more than 80 percent, but only scored 70.4 percent in science and 62 percent in social studies. Eleventh graders passed all five portions of the OGT, the attendance rate for all grades was 95 percent, and the district graduation rate was 97 percent.

The value-added score represented progress made by students since the previous school year in contrast with achievement scores, which assesses performance at a certain point in time. Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) is a federally-required measure and districts must reach all goals in order to meet the AYP requirement.

Goals were applied to 10 student groups including: ethnic, economic, disabled, and those with limited English proficiency. Not meeting AYP goals for consecutive years could impact a district at the state and federal level.

"We made ‘Safe Harbor’ with many of our sub-groups," said Taylor, "and we made a 10 percent gain in all of the sub-groups except one (reading proficiency for students with disabilities). We have not met AYP for two years, but we made such gains in ‘Safe Harbor’ and only missed it in special education. Then there is ‘Value Added’ where they measure if a district makes a year’s growth with students. Last year was the first year for this and we were below the measure. This year we’re above and it will be our goal to maintain the good ‘Value Added’ rating we made this year."

Taylor attributes the increase in assessment and performance indicators to a focus on differential learning and reported teachers are getting better at differentiating lessons for students on an individual level.

"We spent a whole year on professional development with grades 3-5 on differentiated instruction," continued Taylor. "This year, we’re spending time with grades 6-8 on differentiated instruction. The way we managed budget cuts in professional development was to focus our efforts on what’s important and how to get more bang for our buck."

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