Note: This story appears in the Wednesday, Sept. 18 newspaper on Page A1.

The Ohio Department of Education recently released report cards for the state’s 608 school districts.

This is the sixth year report cards have been released and the second year that the state has given overall letter grades for each district; overall grades for both Vinton and Jackson Counties demonstrated mixed results, with some successes and some needs for improvements.

The 2019 results are the following: Vinton County Local Schools (D); Wellston City Schools (C); Jackson City Schools (C) and Oak Hill Union Local Schools (C).

These letter grades are composed through an overall score, which is based on six separate categories. These six have remained rather consistent each year:

  • Achievement — This category is based off whether student performance on state tests met state-established standards, as well as how well students performed on tests overall. “Achievement” has numerous test-based indicators that are based off grade levels and testing subjects. For example, Third Grade Mathematics would be considered one testing indicator, and and Third Grade English Language Arts would be another testing indicator. But not all indicators for this category are based on test scores: non-test indicators included in this category focus on students deemed “gifted” and “chronic absenteeism.”
  • Progress — This category is somewhat tricky, as it gauges the growth that all students are making based on their past performances. In other words, this category compares last year’s data to this year’s.
  • Gap Closing — The Gap Closing component shows how well schools are meeting the performance expectations for students considered “vulnerable” (those with economic disadvantages and with disabilities). It compares those groups with the overall student body to see if the district can “close the gap” with education.
  • Graduation Rate — This category merely looks at the percent of students who are successfully completing high school in four or five years.
  • Improving At-Risk K-3 Readers — This component is all about equity. It tracks how many 3rd grade students met the reading requirements to be promoted to fourth grade and met state standards in regards to their reading ability. Districts are expected to identify struggling readers and bring them up to state standards.
  • Prepared for Success — The final component focuses on “how well prepared Ohio’s students are for all future opportunities.” This category looks at ACT and SAT test participation rates; how many students received honors diplomas; how many students participated in Advanced Placement courses and ultimately how those students fared on their AP exams; and how many earned an industry-recognized trade credential, among other indicators.

The Courier plans to meet with superintendents of these school districts to provide further context and insight into the full school report cards, but to give an initial overview, the Department of Education’s report cards pointed to each school district areas where the state feels there may be a need for improvement.

The “Achievement” mark contains 24 indicators between third grade and high school. Jackson City met nine indicators this year; Oak Hill, four; Vinton County, three and Wellston City, one.

Each school district had its highlights and its areas where it fell short of state standards. Vinton County, for example, earned “B” grades in both the “Gap Closing” and the “Graduation Rate Components.” However, the district earned a “D” in both “Progress” and “Achievement.”

Jackson aced the “Gap Closing” and “Graduation Rate” categories and also earned favorable marks in “Achievement” and “Improving At-Risk K-3 Readers,” but received a “D” grade in Progress.

At Wellston, success was seen in the “Gap Closing” and “Graduation Rate” categories, and the district received favorable grades in the “Progress” component. However, the state graded the district unfavorably in the “Improving At-Risk K-3 Readers” component.

Oak Hill received a “B” for its “Graduation Rate” category and a “C” in “Progress,” but failing marks in every other category.

All four districts received an F grade in the “Prepared for Success” category. ACT participation ranged from 76.8 percent at Jackson City Schools to 64.6 percent in Vinton County.

Graduation rates were a highlight of this year’s report card results in Vinton and Jackson counties, all district’s earning a higher percentage than the state average (85.9 percent). Jackson City Schools had the highest graduation rate of students able to complete high school in four years out of the two counties, coming in at 93.8 percent. After Jackson City came Oak Hill (92.8), Wellston City (91.2) and then Vinton County (90.1).

Full report card data is available online; @sydneydawes_95

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