MIAMI COUNTY — State report cards are in, and while the results appear discouraging, local school officials are optimistic and determined to move forward.
Released by the Ohio Department of Education, the report cards assign grades from A to F in various performance categories. Most of the grades are based on student test scores.
Superintendents from Bethel, Milton-Union, and Tipp City schools provided some context for the districts’ scores.
Many of the districts’ students have taken three different sets of tests in the last three years, Milton-Union Superintendent Brad Ritchey pointed out.
“Teachers feel the target has been moved on them,” he said. Districts have also been transitioning toward having students take standardized tests online rather than with pencil and paper.
Now that PARCC testing is out and another test has been settled on, districts say that they now have a better idea of what to aim for.
“We now have our baseline and we can work from that,” Bethel Local Schools Superintendent Virginia Potter said.
At a recent school board meeting, Tipp City schools Superintendent Gretta Kumpf said that the district is continuing to find better ways to “learn how to prepare students for testing.”
Grades on the 2016 report cards include:
How they scored: Bethel, D; Milton-Union, C; Tipp City, B
This component represents whether student performances on state tests met established thresholds and how well students performed on tests overall.
• Gap closing
How they scored: Bethel, F; Milton-Union, F; Tipp City, F
This component shows how well the schools are meeting the performance expectations for its most vulnerable populations of students in English language arts, math and graduation. This reflects the extent to which students in different ethnic, racial, income and disability groups received an equal education.
• K-3 Literacy
How they scored: Bethel, F; Milton-Union, D; Tipp City, D
The K-3 Literacy component looks at how successful the school is at getting struggling readers on track to proficiency in third grade and beyond.
How they scored: Bethel, D; Milton-Union, D; Tipp City, B
This component looks at the growth that all students are making based on their past test performances.
Gap closing and K-3 literacy were areas where districts across the state struggled — with a majority of districts statewide receiving D’s or F’s — school officials said.
The other thing to keep in mind, Ritchey added, is that this is “virtually the same data that made us excellent a few years ago.”
The state has issued report cards for several years, doing away with the previous system issuing rankings “excellent” or “excellent with distinction.”
Officials from all three districts stressed that there is more to their schools than test scores — both Milton-Union and Bethel boast graduation rates around 95 percent. Tippecanoe High School’s four-year graduation rate is about 99 percent.
The results look discouraging, Kumpf said, but she added that the report card “only makes us more determined.”
Ritchey echoed that sentiment, adding that his staff “won’t stop trying to get an A” in all areas.
“We’ve got work to do here at Bethel and we’re going to roll up our sleeves and do it,” Potter said.
Reach Cecilia Fox at [email protected]