Howland Local Schools achieved Excellent with Distinction rating for the second time from the Ohio Department of Education's Academic Report Cards for the 2008-2009 school year.
Excellent with Distinction is the state report card's top rating. Schools performance is based on state indicators that measure the achievement and progress of students within a school building or district. Four separate measures are used to assign one of six designations to districts. The other designations are Excellent, Effective, Continuous Improvement, Academic Watch and Academic Emergency.
"We are excited," Howland Superintendent John Sheets said last month when the reports were made public.
"But it will be harder to maintain the rating. What faculty and students have been doing in the classroom to prepare for the achievement tests and the Ohio Graduation Test must be working, so we are working to keep doing those practices and add to them,'' he said.
Of 30 indicators used to determine a district's designation, Howland schools met 29, with a performance index of 100.9 points out of a possible 120. Achievement tests in reading, mathematics, writing, science and social studies, depending on each grade level, allow schools to earn performance credits.
Statewide' more than 85 percent of school districts and almost 72 percent of school buildings received ratings of Effective or higher on this year's report cards. These figures include 116 districts and 215 schools that have earned the Excellent with Distinction designation.
Over the last decade, statewide student scores on the report have increased 26 percent.
The state requires scores of at least 75 percent or higher on achievement tests for third, eighth and 10th-grade students. Howland third-graders scored 92.9 percent in reading and 95.7 percent in mathematics.
Tenth-grade Ohio Graduation Test-takers scored much higher than 75 percent required at 88.6 percent in reading; 83.5 percent in mathematics; 91.9 percent in writing; 75.5 percent in science and 82.8 percent in social studies. Eleventh-graders also scored high on the OGT tests, which has an 85 percent requirement. Howland juniors scored 95.2 percent in reading; 95.6 percent in mathematics; 96.7 percent in writing, 90.7 percent in science and 93.3 percent in social studies.
Attendance rates for Howland Local Schools is 95 percent with a 97.6 percent graduation rate.
Recently the state has suspended the fourth and seventh grade writing and the fifth and eighth grade social studies achievement tests in an effort to save costs. It is estimated that over a two-year period the state will have a cost savings of approximately $8.8 million as a result of not giving these tests.
Writing and social studies will remain as part of the Ohio Graduation Tests given in the 10th and 11th grades.
"We still have to make sure our students understand what they are required to know for whatever the grade level they are in," Sheets said.
The suspension of these indicators likely will not have any affect on how the district prepares its students, he said.
Unless there are further changes made before the next state Report Card, school districts will have 26 indicators to achieve instead of 30 indicators.