Niles City Schools Superintendent Mark Robinson said that although he's not pleased with his district's results in two key areas of its 2011-12 state report card, he's viewing the information as parts of an incomplete puzzle.
Preliminary data show that Niles fell below the state's requirements for meeting Value-Added Growth, despite having met the measure on the 2010-11 report card, and did not make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).
Value-Added Growth shows whether students in grades 3 to 8 meet the expected one year in reading and math. AYP, a federally required component, measures achievement of student subgroups.
Tribune Chronicle / Virginia Shank
Nylicia Green, 14, left, and Yazz’Meonia Haynes, 14, work on an assignment together at Warren City Schools Jefferson K-8 building.
Local educators said that in some cases, how a school district lands on those measures could play a key role in determining the academic designation it receives.
Still, Robinson said he is confident the school district has maintained its overall rating of Effective.
"The data we've gotten so far is helpful, but it's not complete, it's not official," he said. "I think it's important to take it for what it is. We'll use it as a guide. But there are pieces of the pie that are missing and without the whole pie, you can't really see the whole picture."
On Wednesday, the Ohio Department of Education released preliminary district, traditional school, community school and STEM school results on Ohio's 2011-12 state tests and several related measures.
However, that data is not finalized and some of the information is on hold pending the progress of an investigation by State Auditor David Yost into alleged irregularities in the reporting of student attendance by local districts. State officials said they expect to release official results early in 2013.
The preliminary data released this week includes results of the 26 indicators on the report card and graduation rates for districts and high schools, calculated using a method required by federal law that more closely tracks when students transfer to or from a school.
However, data for attendance rates, the Performance Index and overall school and district ratings, such as "Excellent" or "Effective," are not yet finalized.
Robinson, like other local administrators, said he needs to analyze the data to determine where the school district stands academically - something he said cannot be done accurately with missing information.
Still, some educators across the state are using the preliminary data to project what their school's overall rating is on the 2011-12 ODE state report cards.
Melissa Watson, teaching and learning director for Warren City Schools, said the information indicates Warren has moved from Academic Watch to Continuous Improvement, maybe even Effective. Warren went from Met to Above on its Value-Added Growth measure, which Watson said helped nudge the school district to a higher designation.
"It was like Christmas morning," Watson said. "It was a validation of all of the hard work our students and staff have been doing and confirmation that we are where we thought we should be."
Watson said that although the data is incomplete, it's enough for districts to get an idea of where they stand.
"The state had already given us scores, and it's a case where we felt like we knew, but we were waiting most for value added," Watson said. "We wanted to be able to have that in hand."
Youngstown City Schools did not meet Value-Added Growth despite having met it on the previous report card, causing concern for Superintendent Connie Hathorn. He said he believes his school district maintained the Academic Watch standing it claimed the previous year.
"I'm not satisfied," he said. "We have work to do and areas we know we need to focus on. But this gives us a guide, at least a place to start."
The data indicates that Girard, which Met the Value-Added Growth measure, has moved from its Effective rating, where the district stood from 2008 to 2011, to Excellent, Superintendent David Cappuzzello said. The district did not meet the measurement on its previous report card.
"We went up in that area and it really helped," he said. "Our teachers have been focusing in areas where we felt we needed to focus and work on."
Meanwhile, Watson said that regardless of the district's rating, she's glad to have the scores at her fingertips.
"Now we have some idea of where we are and where we need to go," she said. "No matter what we need to do, what we need to do to move forward and educate the students."