The Barnesville Exempted Village School District earned an "excellent" rating on the Ohio Department of Education's annual district report cards for the 2008-2009 school year, released recently.

Union Local High School and Middle School also earned "excellent" ratings, an improvement from their effective ratings the year before. The district as a whole was rated as "effective "( 23 out of 30. 94.8 performance index).

Barnesville elementary school achieved an excellent rating this year for the second year in a row. The high school, which had an excellent rating last year, slipped to effective. The middle school was also rated as effective.

Last year, Barnesville was the only district in Belmont County to earn the rating. This year, St. Clairsville schools joined the ranks of excellent districts in the county.

Barnesville Superintendent Randy Lucas said the district was able to earn the excellent rating again this year because of the Value Added aspect of the rating system. He said the value added measures how much a student has learned in a given school year. For instance, even if a student is not performing at their grade level, if they improved several grade levels in the course of a school year, the district is rated at "above expected growth." This is third year for the Barnesville district to be rated at above expected growth. Lucas said the Title I program at the elementary school really focused on improving student growth. Title I has been added to the middle school this year, where Lucas says the need is the greatest. He said teachers hope to help students raise reading and math scores at the middle school.

Lucas said the district was up in some areas and down in others.

He thanked the staff and the administration for their input helping the district to achieve the excellent rating again this year.

This was the first year for Union Local High School to earn an "excellent" rating, having met all indicators.

"The staff keeps adjusting to the standards and preparing the students the best they can," said Union Local High School Principal Joel Davia.

He said changes made at the high school last year included a study island and Ohio Graduation Test labs.

Davia said under House Bill I, the method of testing student progress will be changed by 2010, however, just what will be required is still up in the air.

Davia said the biggest problem for the high school is that some students miss the performance goal be one or two points and cannot obtain diplomas. He said it is hoped that all those students will be able to pass this year.

"We are pretty proud of what we have done here," Davia said. "The staff works hard to pull things together. We can always get better," he said.

Davia said through professional development, the staff analyses and implements new strategies.

Beallsville High School and Elementary School were both rated "continuous improvement" with 13 indicators out of 19 (90.1 performance index.) While the elementary school had four out of 12 (88.6 performance index). The Switzerland of Ohio School District as a whole earned an "effective" rating.

School building ratings are based on several factors, including tests scores and attendance and graduation rates. Ratings are based on a six-level scale with excellent with distinction as the highest rating. Excellent and effective ratings follow.

Other nearby districts rated "excellent" included the Caldwell Exempted Village and Newcomerstown Exempted Village school districts.

The "effective" rated districts were the East Muskingum Local, East Guernsey Local, Noble Local and Cambridge City school districts.

More than 85 percent of school districts and nearly 72 percent of school buildings received ratings of effective or higher on this year's report cards.

The performance index of a district reflects the academic performance of every student enrolled in the district for the full academic year. The maximum score a district can earn is 120.

The performance index for districts (with 2007-2008 scores in parenthesis) is as follows: East Guernsey Local, 96.6 (96.1); Caldwell Exempted Village, 94.8 (94.3); Barnesville Exempted Village, 94.3 (96.6) and Noble Local (90.6).

The statewide average performance index score has increased by more than 26 percent since it was introduced in 1999-2000, from 73.7 to 92.9 this year.

One of the 30 performance indicators is the 2007-2008 graduation rate. The state's requirement is 90 percent. Graduation rates are: Noble Local, 95.2 percent; East Guernsey Local, 95.1 percent; ; Barnesville Exempted Village, 90.9 percent.

Ohio's graduation rate for 2007-2008 was 84.2 percent.

All local districts met the indicator for the attendance rate, set by the state at 93 percent of all students.

Adequate Yearly Progress is a federal measure of goals set for reading, mathematics proficiency and participation, attendance rate and graduation rate.

The full report for each district can be viewed online at