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Friday, September 14th, 2018

Area schools receive passing grades

From staff reports
All area school districts earned overall passing grades of a C or higher with Minster the only local district to receive an A on the Ohio Department of Education report cards issued this week.
Coldwater, Fort Recovery, Marion Local, New Bremen and St. Henry earned B's overall. Celina, Parkway and St. Marys received C's.
Report cards indicate how the districts and individual schools are performing and celebrate success and identify areas needing improvement, according to ODE.
This is the first time districts have received an overall grade based on six components measuring test achievement, year-to-year test progress, gap closing between certain demographic groups of students, graduation rate, kindergarten-to-third-grade literacy improvement and a prepared for success mark, which looks at how well prepared students are for future opportunities.
Celina City Schools earned a D in achievement, a B in progress, a D in gap closing, a B in graduation rate, a C in improving at-risk K-3 grade readers and an F in prepared for success.
Celina City Schools Superintendent Ken Schmiesing said the report card showed improvement from last year's, but much progress remains to be made.
Coldwater Exempted Village School superintendent Jason Wood said he was proud of his district's accomplishments and progress indicated by the report card. The district received A's in the progress, gap closing and graduation rate measurements and a B for achievement.
In some areas, officials are already looking at ways to improve, he said. Preliminary data is given out over the summer, and school administrators and teachers begin looking for ways to improve curricula.
Coldwater also received a D in the improving at-risk K-3 readers component, as well as a D in the prepared for success component. Wood said the K-3 figure was somewhat misleading. All students meet the third-grade reading guarantee but didn't perform well on the day of testing.
Wood pointed out that grades for each individual school were available this year. Coldwater elementary and high school both received overall B's, and the middle school received an A.
Fort Recovery Local Schools received received A's in the gap closing and graduation rate components and C's in achievement, progress and improving at-risk K-3 readers. It received a D for preparing students for success.
Superintendent Justin Firks was at a conference on Thursday and could not be reached for comment.
Marion Local Schools Superintendent Mike Pohlman said he was very proud of students and the results of the report card. According to Pohlman, Marion Local ranked fourth in the state on their performance index score.
The district received A's in achievement, progress, gap closing and graduation rate components and C's for improving at-risk K-3 readers and prepared for successes components.
Pohlman said though the results were favorable, they don't define the district. It's one thing to look good on paper and another to meet the needs of students, he said. District officials owe it to the community, as well as to former employees, to sustain a tradition of excellence created through hard work.
Minster Local Schools, Superintendent Brenda Boeke said she is pleased with her district's results.
"The school district report cards are just one measure that we use to evaluate how we are doing," she said. "We're proud of our students and the commitment of the teachers to garner the good grades, but we know that there's still work to do. Our goal is to always meet the needs of our kids, and we do that in many different ways than just using the school report card."
The district earned A's in graduation rate and gap closing and B's in achievement and prepared for success.
"We're pleased with the outcome of the hard work of our students and staff. We're proud of our graduation rate. That should be the end product, making sure that our students are ready for leaving high school, the graduation rate and the prepared for success," Boeke said as she cautioned against reading too much into the report cards.
"I think the report card process is too heavily relied on students taking tests, and we all know that there's more to being prepared for success than a test," she said.
New Bremen Local Schools Superintendent Jason Schrader was pleased with his district's results.
"I thought we did very well overall. Our district ended up with an overall grade of a B. Our elementary ended up with an A and the high school a B, so we were very pleased. Obviously there's a few areas that we will look to focus on this year and better refine, but overall we're pleased with our results," he said.
One of the bright spots was the district's score on the value-added section, which measures the progress of students from year to year, emphasizing the need for at least one year's academic growth over 12 months, he said.
"We received an A in that, so that tells us that in relationship with other schools in Ohio that our students are making an above one-year growth," Schrader said. "That's a great indicator that we're doing some great things here."
He said he will study the calculations that go into determining a district's prepared-for-success grade. Overall, he believes the district report card can help teachers and administrators provide a better education, but it is not a complete image of the school.
"We try to look at the whole student, and not just one point in time. So the formative data we do on a daily basis is very valuable to us, and interactions with parents and the success of our students and where they end up going as far as graduation and two-year schools and ultimately getting a job or a career are all factors that we look at to determine success," Schrader said.
Parkway received a C in achievement, a D in progress, an A in gap closing, a B in graduation rate, a B in improving at-risk K-3 readers and a D in prepared for success categories. Superintendent Jeanne Osterfeld was not available for comment by press time.
St. Henry Consolidated Local Schools Superintendent Julie Garke said she was pleased with the district's overall B grade. She felt the district had performed strongly by getting A's in graduation rate and gap closing and a B in achievement.
The district also earned C's in progress and improving at-risk K-3 readers. Despite it scoring a D in prepared for success, she said the district and all the others in Mercer County "do well in preparing students for life beyond school."
"I want to thank the students and staff. They do a lot of things right and are always looking for ways to improve," Garke added.
St. Marys City Schools received an overall grade of C, but superintendent Bill Ruane said he was pleased overall.
"We believe in so much more than just a report card and test scores, but we are very pleased with some of our areas such as our gap closing component and our performance index and our graduation rate - especially our performance index because that measures the achievement component of how our kids are actually doing on the test. So, to us, we put value in how our kids are achieving, and we were second out of our 20 most similar districts in our performance index score, so we're very pleased with that," he said.
St. Marys earned an A in gap-closing and graduation rate, a C on achievement and improving at-risk K-3 readers, a D in progress and an F in prepared for success.
"Our staff goes above and beyond, but we would like to see improvement in our value-added, our growth," Ruane said.
He also noted the first-year taking the PARCC test with pencil and paper yielded higher scores across the district, but when standardized tests moved to being given online, results have suffered.
"Ever since we switched to online it's been hard for us to get over that hump toward showing improvement in that area, but that's an area we'll continue to address and look into," he said.

- Daily Standard staff writers Sydney Albert, Tom Stankard and Ed Gebert contributed to this report.
Overall Score Achievement Graduation Rate Progress K-3 Reading Gap Closing Prepared for Success
Celina C D B B C D F
Coldwater B B A A D A D
Fort Recovery B C A C C A D
Marion Local B A A A C A C
Minster A B A B NR A B
New Bremen B B A B A A D
Parkway C C B D B A D
St. Henry B B A C C A D
St. Marys C C A D C A F
EDITOR'S NOTE: For complete details about the district report cards, visit reportcard.education.ohio.gov.
Additional online story on this date
ST. HENRY - The St. Henry volleyball team was selected No. 1 in the first Division IV state coaches poll that was released earlier this week.
The selection was validated on Thursday. [More]
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