The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) released its annual state report card on Aug. 14 and the South-Western City School District kept its ranking.
For the second year, the district has earned an overall rating of Continuous Improvement. Districts can earn grades of Excellent, Effective, Continuous Improvement, Academic Watch and Academic Emergency. The district’s performance index score, a measurement of how well all students are performing from year-to-year, remained relatively stable at 90.1, compared to 92.6 from last year. Districts are graded on performance index scores and graduation rates.
District leaders say they are pleased with the grade, but note there is always room for improvement.
"Most of the individual schools earned an Effective rating and I am glad we are showing some improvement," said Jim Lester, SWCS board of education president. "The state report card is a good way of measuring student achievement."
When the ODE first started issuing their annual report cards, in 2003, the school district earned an Academic Watch rating.
"We are tickled to death that the students keep improving every year," said Lester. "We will move to an Effective (or B) grade someday – I just know it."
Lester explained that the students have improved in subjects such as math and science but have dropped a little in areas like social studies.
"Now we will have to go back and evaluate how we approach the subject, just as we did when math and science scores were lower than we would have liked," he said.
Now that the state report card is out, administrators and teachers will get together and discuss plans for improvement. They will examine individual students, each class and each building.
"We just have to keep plugging away and keep improving," said Lester.
Lester said a key element to bumping up the district’s grade is to get their staffing levels back up.
"These past few years have been tough for us," Lester noted. "We’ve had to cut teaching staff and that has hurt us."
The district also cut teacher leaders at the intermediate level, which was a staff development position designed to assist teachers and department heads with student progress.
"The teacher leaders worked with teachers and students in areas where we might not be as proficient," Lester said. "If we got those positions back, we could get a better grade."
According to the ODE Web site, 80 percent of Ohio schools rated Excellent or Effective.
SWCS issued this statement, "The district continues to focus on student learning and building improvement plans. The district continues to improve targeted intervention programs to increase student learning."