On Thursday, the Ohio Department of Education released the first round of school performance assessments using the new letter grade report cards.
The reports include results for school districts and buildings in nine of 18 performance categories. Districts and buildings aren’t scheduled to receive overall grades until 2015.
The revamped system replaces the six-tier assessment system that featured such labels as “Excellent” and “Continuous Improvement” with more familiar letter grades. It also requires schools to meet a few more stringent performance standards intended to help Ohio students compete on a global stage.
Randy J. Lucas, Superintendent of  the Barnesville Exempted Village School District said, “Thursday data was released regarding the performance of our school district and school buildings as determined by the new Local Report Card.  The previous method of issuing an overall rating to a district or school (such as Academic Emergency, Academic Watch, Continuous Improvement, Effective, Excellent, or Excellent with Distinction) is being replaced with an A-F letter grade in a variety of areas. It is important that our community and staff understand that the new report cards contain measures for grading that are more rigorous than in the past.   The previous grading system assessed districts mostly on achievement test results while the new system assesses achievement test results and additional areas such as Value Added performance in subgroups such as Gifted, Special Education, and Students identified in the lowest 20% statewide in reading and math achievement.  This new grade card includes a separate grade for the district in nine different areas with an overall composite grade not becoming part of the Local Report Card until 2015.  By 2016, the district will receive a letter grade in 18 areas in addition to an overall composite grade.”
He continued, “We are proud of the fact that we met 20 out of 24 indicators for a B letter grade on this component of the grade card.  Our current Report Card data also suggests that we are competent in the areas of Performance Index and overall Value Added; however, we must improve in the areas of Value Added for our Gifted Students, Students with Disabilities, and Students that are in the Lowest 20%.  Lower than normal scores are to be expected at Barnesville Schools and across the state due to the more rigorous standards; however, that cannot be an excuse for low grades.  We will continue to analyze the data to determine our strengths and weaknesses and adjust accordingly.  We fully expect these scores to improve as we become more familiar with the new standards and report cards.”
Union Local School District Superintendent Doug Thoburn released the following statement: “Today (Thursday, Aug. 22) the State Department of Education released the new A-F School Report Cards. This year the state has chosen to grade nine components. There is not an overall grade assigned this year. We, at Union Local, have identified some data errors in the high school State Indicators portion of the report card. We are working cooperatively with the Office of the Assessments at the Ohio Department of Education and there will be a revised high school report card released as soon as those data errors are corrected.
In respect to the grades across the district as a whole, Union Local has superior teachers and building level administrators that will work tirelessly to figure out each graded area and then work to ensure that our children achieve high levels in each area. Now, we are not satisfied with the grades and we take exception to the image portrayed by these grades. The frustration in public education across Ohio is that we have had several different grading criteria over the past 20 years by which to measure schools. About the time a school district finds a way to show success, the State changes the rules and we begin all over again — the constantly moving target. That process is grossly unfair to teachers and to parents that deserve some measure of confidence in the ability of our schools to educate their children. Anyone with rational thinking can look at this process and see the lunacy involved. I can assure parents that Union Local continues to be an outstanding choice for educating children — I believe the best choice. We continue to graduate students that earn admission into outstanding colleges and excel in professional careers. I am proud of our teachers, our support staff, and our administrators.
School systems are only a portion of the systemic process of raising and educating children. Where are the report cards for local municipalities on how they serve children? Where is the report card for our social service agencies on how they serve children? Where is the report card for local law enforcement and our juvenile court system on how they serve children? Where is the report card for the health care industry in serving children? Our teachers and our schools are only a part — not the whole — of the child raising process. We are interdependent on all the other agencies, as well as parents, in achieving our goals.
The school grades are not where we expect them to be — and we will correct that. I have no doubt that our teachers, beginning next week, will engage the criteria and work to satisfy this current set of criteria that has been established by our legislators and our governor. It would be nice if the law makers would spend as much time properly funding public education as they do trying to discredit it. Accountability and measurement are important and public schools should not be afraid or immune to that level of scrutiny, however, proper funding and stability are equally important and both have been lacking from this state for many years — how do our elected leaders score on their Report Card?”
 According to the Ohio School Boards Association, analysis of the report card release confirms research that shows income and poverty have a direct correlation to student performance.
Among the 135 school districts above the state average income of $51,626, 91 percent scored an A in the letter grade of standards met category, while just 41 percent of the 474 districts below the state average income received an A.
Among the 360 districts with student poverty levels less than the state average, 74 percent earned an A, while only 20 percent of the 249 districts with poverty levels higher than the state average received an A.
For more information, go online to www.newreportcard.education.ohio.gov.
A breakdown of the letter grades for the Barnesville Exempted Village School District are as follows:
Achievement
• Standards met — B  (82.6%)
• Performance index — B (83.3%)
Progress
• Overall value-added — B    
• Gifted value-added — D    
• Lowest 20 percent in achievement — D    
• Students with disabilities — F
Gap closing
• Annual measurable objectives —C (73.3%)
Graduation rate
88.7% of students graduated in 4 years — C
92.2% of students graduated in 5 years. — B
A breakdown of the letter grades for the Union Local School District are as follows:
Achievement
• Standards met —C  (77.4%)
• Performance index — D (50%)
Progress
• Overall value-added —D    
• Gifted value-added — F    
• Lowest 20 percent in achievement — C    
• Students with disabilities — B
Gap closing
• Annual measurable objectives —F (52.2%)
Graduation rate
89.1% of students graduated in 4 year — .B
89.8% of students graduated in 5 years — C