Note: This story appears in the Wednesday, Oct. 2 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 Wellston City School District’s scores; further in-depth coverage of the remaining Jackson County districts will appear in upcoming editions.
WELLSTON — The Wellston City School District learned in September that it earned an overall district grade of a “C” on the Ohio School Report Card for 2019.
Last year was the first year that the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) handed out overall district letter grades to each school district in the state of Ohio.
In 2018, Wellston had an overall district grade of a “D” on the report card, so the district has improved a letter grade.
The report cards, according to ODE, are based on information school districts report on specific marks of performance, called measures, within broad categories called components. They receive grades for up to 10 measures and six components.
When looking at the Wellston’s “district overview” report card, the school district received a “C” as a district grade. The six component grades were:
- Achievement (D)
- Progress (C)
- Gap Closing (B)
- Graduation Rate (B)
- Improving At-Risk K-3 Readers (D)
- Prepared for Success (F)
When compared to last year, the only improvement in the district overview was “Gap Closing” which improved from a “D” to a “B” this year. All of the other component grades remained the same.
The Courier reached out to Wellston City Schools Superintendent Karen Boch to discuss this year’s report card.
“Wellston City Schools is committed to providing an excellent education for all learners,” stated Boch. “As a district, we have been working to put systems in place to meet the needs of our learners.”
Boch added, “I could not be more proud of the administrators, educators and staff as they are dedicated to our students, families and communities. The benefits of our administrative team and staff’s hard work are being realized.”
The district received a “D” on Achievement, with specific school marks including: Bundy Elementary (A), Wellston High School (D), Wellston Intermediate School (D) and Wellston Middle School (D).
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.
Out of those 24 indicators, Wellston received a passing grade on just one — the End of Course (EOC) Improvement Indicator.
Boch did note there was an increased number of students who scored at or above proficient in 71.4 percent of the Ohio State Tests, with 28.5 percent meeting or exceeding the state average.
“We are making progress not only in grade levels, but also across same student cohorts,” stated Boch. “For example, in 2018 G6 ELA, 56.3 percent were at or above proficient... in Spring 2019, 71.4 percent were at or above proficient on the G7 ELA OST.”
Boch add, “Bundy Elementary and Wellston Middle School met the Chronic Absenteeism Indicator. This means that they decreased the number of students identified as chronically absent by 3 percent or more.”
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 overall district scored a “C” overall and fared best with gifted students, while receiving lesser marks in other student groups.
The specific school marks included: Bundy Elementary (No Rating), Wellston High School (B), Wellston Intermediate School (D) and Wellston Middle School (B).
The district received a “B” overall grade, with the schools as follows: Bundy (No Rating), WHS (B), WIS (F) and WMS (C).
The Gap Closing component checks how well the “most vulnerable populations of students” perform in comparison to the state average. At Wellston, several of these populations scored well, including those with “economic disadvantages.”
“When looking at the Gap Closing Component, on the 2018 LRC, we had a ‘D’ at the district level,” explained Boch. “This year, we missed an ‘A’ by .4 of a point! There were improvements at the buildings also.”
Wellston has a four-year graduation rate of 91.2 percent, which is noticeably higher than the state average. The district’s five-year graduation rate of 90.2 percent is also higher than the state average.
The district scored a “D” overall, with Bundy Elementary and Wellston Intermediate School both receiving D’s as well.
Nearly 95.2 percent of students met the Third Grade Reading Guarantee to promote to the 4th grade. However, only 60.6 percent of third graders scored “proficient” on the state’s English language arts test, the report card noted.
Of students in kindergarten through third grade considered “at-risk readers,” just 21.1 percent were deemed to have been moved to “on track” in their reading abilities. This earned the district a “D” letter grade.
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.
A majority of Wellston students do take the ACT test and 20.1 percent of graduates received honors diplomas in 2017 and 2018. The district was dinged for only having 5.6 percent of students graduate with an “industry-recognized credential” and 12.6 percent of students taking advanced placement classes.
Boch told The Courier that the school district welcomes “accountability and use the information to inform,” however, she explained that it is only one data point. In its current state, Boch, explained that the local report card only causes “confusion” as there are many moving pieces and parts.
“The improvements we are making are a direct result of the hard work and dedication of all involved which includes collaborative teams working to serve the needs of all students,” said Boch. “Moving forward, we will continue to refine our system by focusing on system alignment and studying the impact our decisions have on student achievement.”
Boch said she is a member of the Buckeye Association of School Administrators (BASA) Local Report Card Committee. Members have worked to communicate and provide possible solutions to what they argue are inconsistencies in the Local Report Card program.
“As a district, we are all working toward a common goal — to educate the whole child; do what is best for our students; and to build a system that affords them the opportunity to realize their potential,” stated Boch. “As you know, continuous improvement is a never-ending journey.”
Boch added, “The entire staff and administration are working diligently to build a PK-12 culture that is responsive to our learners’ needs and teaches them important life skills, which are reflected in our mission, belief statements, and our district plan.”
The full Wellston City School District grade card can be viewed by visiting http://reportcard.education.ohio.gov and searching for the district.