Most districts make the grade

17 of 20 county schools earn C or higher on state report cards

Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple Willard PK-8 School fourth grader Breanna Brown, 9, does her school work Thursday morning. The Warren City School District earned an overall grade of D on the state report cards released Thursday by the Ohio Department of Education. It earned Fs in achievement and prepared for success, Ds in progress and graduation rate and Cs in improving at-risk readers and gap closing.

For a school-by-school breakdown by district in Trumbull County, click here.

The majority of Trumbull County’s 20 public school districts received letter grades of B or C in the latest Ohio report cards released Thursday by the Ohio Department of Education.

Having overall grades for school districts is a new wrinkle in the state’s grading system that was not available before this year.

Two districts in Mahoning County — Austintown and Youngstown — had letter grades of C and F, respectively.

In Trumbull County, 12 districts earned overall B grades and five had C grades. Newton Falls, Niles and Warren each received overall grades of D.

Most Trumbull superintendents, even ones in districts earning higher grades, said they are working to achieve even higher grades. However, they said report card grades are only a part of the total educational package that parents and students must look at when judging how well a district may be doing.

“This year’s report cards show improvement in districts in every corner of the state, at all levels of wealth, large and small, urban, rural and everything in between,” said Paolo DeMaria, superintendent of public instruction for the ODE.

“Each of Ohio’s students can achieve, and the report cards provide us with reasons to celebrate,” he said. “They also identify areas for improvement, and we’ll use them to drive conversations on how we can better serve Ohio’s 1.7 million students.”

District grades are based on six categories: achievement on state tests, which represents 20 percent of the grade; progress based on past performance, 20 percent; gap closing, which shows how well students do in English language arts, math, graduation and English language proficiency, 15 percent; graduation rates, 15 percent; improving at-risk K-3 Readers, 15 percent; and prepared for success, which recognizes districts for having technical and special college-bound programs, 15 percent.

The Warren City School District earned an overall grade of D.

It earned Fs in achievement and prepared for success, Ds in progress and graduation rate, and Cs in improving at-risk readers and gap closing.

“Our teachers have made strides in helping our struggling readers get on track toward proficiency in third grade and beyond,” Warren Superintendent Steve Chiaro stated. “Our gap closing grade improved two letter grades, reflecting our commitment to meeting the needs of our most vulnerable students in English language arts, mathematics and meeting the state requirements for graduation.”

Austintown Local Schools Superintendent Vince Colaluca said an overall C grade is right where school districts are supposed to be.

“We all are supposed to achieve at least a C,” Colaluca said. “Of course, we want out students to do better, pushing us to B and A grades.”

Colaluca said many districts have trouble with the prepared for success category because they do not have technical programs.

The district received its highest grades in the progress component, achieving an A in value-added grades for its work with its gifted, lowest 20 percent of students and students with disabilities.

Niles Superintendent Ann Marie Thigpen said the district made significant progress from where it was two years ago.

Niles earned an overall D grade. It has Fs in progress and prepared for success, and Ds in achievement and graduation rate. Its best grades were a C for improving at-risk K-3 readers and a B for closing the gap of the district’s most vulnerable students.

“Two years ago, we had Ds and Fs in all categories,” Thigpen said. “Certainly we would like to have better grades, but we are looking at the data behind these grades.”

The district made improvements in 18 out of 21 categories.

“It is slow and methodical change,” Thigpen said. “The trends are going in the right direction.”

Girard Superintendent David Cappuzzello is pleased that his district achieved an overall B grade, but emphasized it is not enough.

The district’s worst grade was prepared for success, for which it earned an F.

“We have to push our students to do well on the ACT tests,” Cappuzzello said. “They should be encouraged not to do just well enough to get into the college they may want, but to keep taking the test until they achieve the highest possible scores in math and English. The higher the score, the more opportunities they will have.”

Although Lordstown Schools received an overall C grade on the report card, Superintendent Terry Armstrong emphasized the district exceeded the state average on 20 of 21 assessment areas.

Weathersfield Superintendent Damon Dohar was pleased with the overall B the district earned, but said he wants to improve in the achievement and gap closing components, for which it earned Cs, and prepared for success, for which it earned a D.

“We do not have a ton of technical programs,” Dohar said. “We are doing more ACT remediation. We expect our advanced placement classes to do better. We are looking at more recognized industry credentialed programs.”

However, he added some programs, such as the International Baccalaureate, are too expensive.

“I have to look at where I can get a better bang for my buck,” he said. “We will talk with TCTC about programs it may have.”