Note: This story appears in the Wednesday, Oct. 9 newspaper on Page A1.

Editor’s Note: The state issued its 2019 report cards to all Ohio school districts in September. The Courier featured a broad overview of the Vinton County, Wellston, Jackson and Oak Hill scores in its Sept. 18 issue. This story features insight on the Jackson City School District’s scores; further in-depth coverage of the final Jackson County district, Oak Hill Union Local Schools, will appear in an upcoming edition.

JACKSON — The Jackson City School District earned an overall district grade of a “C” on the Ohio School Report Card for 2019.

The district earned the exact same overall district grade, as well as every individual component grade, as last year.

The report cards, as given out by the Ohio Department of Education, are based on information school districts report on specific marks of performance within six broader categories.

The six component grades for Jackson were:

  • Achievement (C)
  • Progress (D)
  • Gap Closing (A)
  • Graduation Rate (A)
  • Improving At-Risk K-3 Readers (C)
  • Prepared for Success (F)

This added up to an overall “C” grade for the district.

The Courier reached out to Jackson City Schools Superintendent Phil Howard to discuss this year’s report card.

“Ironically our overall grade and every individual component grade of the report card was exactly the same as last year,” explained Howard. “Having said that, there are still areas that we improved upon and some areas where we slipped a little.”

Howard added that people who aren’t familiar with the state report card tend to “just look at the overall grade and make a judgment.” He noted that it is very possible for districts or buildings to have the same overall grade, yet be different in terms of how they earned that grade.

Achievement

In each component, the state offered individual grades per school. The achievement scores were as follows: Jackson High School (D), Jackson Middle School (C), Northview Elementary (C), Southview Elementary (B) and Westview Elementary (B).

As The Courier previously reported, this category looks at state testing scores in each school district, and it has two dozen “indicators,” all based on grade levels and subjects in those grade levels.

Jackson, as a district, passed in nine of these 24 indicators; he district passed in 11 indicators last year.

Strong scores included fourth grade math and high school American history, among others. There were enough grade and subject levels which did not pass, however, and contributed to the district’s “C” overall achievement grade.

Progress

The Progress category analyzes the successes of different groups of students: gifted students, students in the lowest 20 percent of achievement and students with disabilities.

The district’s overall “D” score reflected low and middle-range marks in each of these groups.

The school scores for Progress were as follows: JHS (F), JMS (D), Northview Elementary (C), Southview Elementary (B) and Westview Elementary (B).

Gap Closing

The district fared best in this category, receiving an “A” overall grade. The individual schools received: JHS (D), JMS (B), Northview Elementary (A), Southview Elementary (A) and Westview Elementary (A).

The Gap Closing component checks how well the “most vulnerable populations of students” perform in comparison to the state average. These populations include those with disabilities and those who with “economic disadvantages.”

Jackson received a perfect grade in this category, with students of each of these populations scoring better than the state average.

Graduation Rate

Jackson High School has a four-year graduation rate of 93.8 percent; it earns a 95.2 percent for the five-year rate. These figures are considerably higher than the state average, earning the district an “A” in this category.

K-3 Literacy

Jackson earned a “C” overall score, with the individual elementary (Northview, Southview, Westview) schools each receiving a “C” as well.

Nearly every third grade student (95 percent) met the “Reading Guarantee” requirements to promote to fourth grade, with around 86 percent scoring “proficient” on the state’s English language arts test.

This particular category focuses mostly on students in grades kindergarten through 3rd that are considered “off-track” with their reading skills, with the goal of each elementary school to improve them back to being “on-track.” Around half of the “off-track” students at Jackson were deemed to have caught up, considered by the state to be an average rating.

Prepared for Success

The final category focuses on factors such as ACT scores, as well as the rates of college enrollment within two years of graduating high school and college graduation within six years of graduating high school.

About 77 percent of students at Jackson High School take the ACT test, though none took the SAT test. Around 18.9 percent graduated with an honors diploma, and 8.6 percent graduated with an industry-recognized credential.

“Generally speaking, the overall grade is largely influenced by either the achievement (how well the students did on the tests) or the growth (how much improvement students showed from one year to the next),” explained Howard. “In a lot of cases you can do well on one of those and poorly on the other and end up with the same overall grade. At that point it becomes a debate about which of the two is most important and a compelling case can be made for either side of that discussion.”

Howard noted district officials will analyze data at the district and building levels to identify areas of success.

“We will also determine where we need to, and where it is possible to make some changes to continue to improve in the areas that are measured by the components of the state report card,” he said.

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