3 districts in Clark, Champaign move up a grade on state report cards

Northwestern Local School District and Mechanicsburg Exempted Village School District are the highest rated school districts in Clark and Champaign counties, according to state report card data released Thursday.

Both districts received an overall “B” grade, with Northwestern raising their overall grade from a “C” last year.

Only 31 districts statewide earned an overall “A” grade, or roughly 5%, and none were in Clark or Champaign county. Springfield City School District received the only overall “F” grade in the two counties.

In total, two Clark County school districts saw an increase in their overall grade, three saw a decrease and two stayed the same. In Champaign County, three stayed the same, one went up and one went down.

This is the second year of Ohio’s new system where each school district gets an overall grade that combined six different report card categories, many of them tied to state testing.

Pure test achievement and year-over-year progress each count for 20% of the grade. Making up 15% each are graduation rate, early-grade literacy improvement, gap closing between groups of students and a “prepared for success” high school measure.

“We believe we are the premier school in Clark County and now we have even more proof it it,” said Northwestern Superintendent Jesse Steiner. “I am very proud of our school and community. I think we have a very special combination of great students, great staff and great community.”

Steiner said he believes the district was able to raise their overall grade because, “we work hard to meet the needs of every student.”

“Meeting the needs of every student will remain as our top priority,” Steiner said.

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Tecumseh Local Schools also raised their overall grade this year. The district saw an improvement from “D” to “C.” Tecumseh and Northwestern were the only two districts in Clark County to raise their overall grade.

“We are pleased with the improvement reflected on our district report card,” said Tecumseh Superintendent Paula Crew.

In order to improve their overall grade, the district developed a plan which included aligning curriculum to state standards, focusing on writing and implementing strategies to meet the behavioral, social and emotional needs of students, Crew said.

“We did a deep dive into the data to identify the specific needs of all students,” Crew said.

Two Clark County districts saw their overall grade fall this year - Greenon Local School District from “C” to “D” and Southeastern Local School District from “B” to “C.”

The remaining Clark County districts, Clark Shawnee and Northeastern Local School District remained at an overall grade of “C.”

Greenon and Northeastern’s superintendents both said they could not comment on the report card yet, as they needed more time to review the data.

Clark-Shawnee Superintendent Brian Kuhn said he is, “pleased with components of the district report card.”

“While we know there are areas in which we can improve, the components the district feels hold the most value indicate that we are doing things well,” Kuhn said.

Kuhn pointed to the districts strong graduation rate, at 94.6%, as one of those indicators.

However, Kuhn said that while the report card is a useful tool that provides the district with information, it doesn’t show everything that is happening in schools.

“For example, our district’s College Credit Plus program, in partnership with Clark State, allowed 148 students to earn over 1,700 college credit hours last school,” Kuhn said. “Metrics like this are not reflected on the report card.”

In Champaign County, Mechanicsburg superintendent Danielle Prohaska said the overall report card grade is just one of the many measures that demonstrates, “why we are the best small school in Ohio.”

This is the second straight year Mechanicsburg received the overall “B” grade.

“The district is once again proud of our efforts to add value to the lives of our students. We have steadily improved across multiple areas on the report card,” Prohaska said.

In addition to the overall grade, data from the report card shows Mechanicburg had a 100% four-year graduation rate for the class of 2018, making it one of only 25 districts in the state that had a perfect year.

“Mechanicsburg’s teachers and staff work non-stop to make learning relevant, meaningful and challenging,” Prohaska said. “I could not be more proud of our students, staff and district.”

Triad Local School District was the only Champaign County district to raise their overall grade this year. The district rose from “D” to “C.”

West Liberty-Salem Local School District fell from an overall “B” to “C.”

Urbana City School District and Graham Local School District both remained the same. Urbana received an overall score of “D” and Graham received a “C.”

Graham Local School District Superintendent Matt Curtis said the district, “continues to make progress on the Ohio school report card.”

“While there is always room for improvement, data continues to show a positive trend,” Curtis said. “Graham’s goal will always be to achieve highly on the Ohio school report card, while understanding that it is a snapshot of the many positive aspects of our schools.”

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Report card grades were expected to be slightly higher this year for reasons related to the graduation and progress components. A change in state law this summer altered how student progress, or year-over-year growth, is graded, softening the scale.

Parts of state and federal law require ODE to produce a detailed state report card for schools with data in certain categories. The level of disagreement over the process is such that the report card has simultaneously been called too complicated and too simplistic.

Those who argue it’s too complicated often point to mathematical formulas for summarizing student growth, gap closing, “prepared for success,” and more. Those in the “overly simplistic” camp say a single letter grade cannot fairly encompass the varied, year-long experience of thousands of students in a school district.

As schools weigh their report card results, more changes are likely coming to the cards in the coming years. In its July budget bill, the state legislature mandated a review of the report card, with a report and recommendation due Dec. 15 to the state superintendent.

Overall grade for Clark County districts:

Northwestern Local School District: B

Clark-Shawnee Local School District: C

Northeastern Local School District: C

Southeastern Local School District: C

Tecumseh Local School District: C

Greenon Local School District: D

Springfield Local School District: F

Overall grade for Champaign County districts:

Mechanicsburg Exempted Village School District: B

Triad Local School District: C

Graham Local School District: C

West Liberty-Salem Local School District: C

Urbana City School District: D

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