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 Vinton County Local School District’s scores; further in-depth coverage of the Jackson County districts will appear in upcoming editions.

McARTHUR — Vinton County Local School District’s state-issued report card boasted improvement in some areas, while highlighting a definite need for improvement in others.

The Ohio Department of Education’s report card features six categories, all rated on a standard A-F scale. Each of the six categories are designed to look into separate aspects of a school district.

Vinton County received the following:

  • Achievement — D
  • Progress — D
  • Gap Closing — B
  • Graduation Rate — B
  • K-3 Literary — C
  • Prepared for Success — F

The grades do not necessarily come with tangible consequences, good or bad. Rather, they allow school districts to focus on areas in need of improvement while also recognizing various successes of each district and school.

This is the second year the Department of Education has given out overall grades to districts: Vinton County’s overall grade was a “D.” In last year’s implementation of this feature, the district received a “C.”

The Courier sat down with Supt. Brooks as well as Teresa Snider, the district’s director of curriculum, instruction and assessment, to go over the state’s report card and provide the context behind its results. Both noted there is a lot of information behind each letter grade.

Achievement

The district received a “D” on Achievement, with each individual school receiving the following on that category: Central Elementary (D), South Elementary (D), West Elementary (C), Vinton County Middle School (D) and Vinton County High school (D).

The Achievement 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. For example, one indicator is High School Algebra I. Another indicator is Eighth Grade Mathematics.

Vinton County passed three indicators this year: Fourth Grade Mathematics, Eighth Grade Science and the End of Course (EOC) Improvement Indicator. To compare, last year’s report card noted the district met only one indicator (the EOC Improvement Indicator) set by the state.

Snider and Brooks noted the district was one-tenth of a point away from receiving a “C” in the Achievement component. They also noted that the district improved on nine indicators from the year prior, increases ranging from 2-13 percent.

Another component for this category is “chronic absenteeism.” The attendance of students keys into the grade districts receive in the Achievement category. Four of the district’s schools met the indicator for chronic absenteeism, Brooks and Snider noted.

Progress

The district received a “D” in Progress, with specific schools receiving the following: Central Elementary (D), South Elementary (A), West Elementary (B), Vinton County Middle School (D) and Vinton County High School (D).

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. Data from this report card was compared to data from the last state report card to determine the component grade.

Last year’s report card granted the district an “A” in the Progress category.

“We’re constantly looking at what we can do for each student,” Snider said. Both she and Brooks stated that teachers and administrators in the district regularly use data provided by the state to inform instruction.

“If we continue doing what we’re doing,” Brooks said, “we’ll see many gains in areas next year.”

Gap Closing

The district received an “B” in gap closing, with separate schools also reporting high letter grades: Central Elementary (A), South Elementary (A), West Elementary (A), Vinton County Middle School (F) and Vinton County High School (D).

This component focuses on 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.Last year, the district received and “A” in the Gap Closing category. Snider stated this category is incredibly crucial.

“We continually work to close the gap,” she said.

Graduation Rate

The high school graduation rate in Vinton County currently sits at 90.1 percent, which measures how many students graduate after four years of study. This mark is higher than the state average of 95.8 percent.

The district received a “C” letter grade last year for this component, and this year, it received a “B. Snider and Brooks also noted the district’s graduation increased from its 87.6 percent graduation rate in 2017.

K-3 Literacy

The district received a “C” in 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.

Around 95.8 percent of third grade students in the district met Third Grade Reading Guarantee requirements to move on to the fourth grade, and nearly 75 percent of students scored proficient on the state English language arts test.

Brooks and Snider stated more than one-third of the district’s students in kindergarten through third grade were moved to an “on-track” status.

Prepared for Success

The district, as well as all surrounding school districts, received an “F” in the Prepared for Success category. This 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.

Brooks and Snider noted graduation isn’t enough; rather, the school district works to help its students to have opportunities after they complete their time in high school. A goal the district has in regards to this component is to increase the number of students who earn a remediation free score on all parts of the ACT, earn an honors diploma or earn an industry-recognized credential.

Overall, the district’s report card shows growth, and school officials are looking into improving all components.

“We’re looking at every piece of it,” Brooks said. “We have a very good understanding of where we are and where we need to be.” Snider pointed to the teachers and other leaders in the district who help support the students of Vinton County.

“We have a real culture of caring here,” she said. “And we look at the whole student and that student’s needs.”

sdawes@vintoncourier.com; @sydneydawes_95

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