Ryan Scott Ottney
PDT Staff Writer
SCIOTOVILLE — Members of the Sciotoville Community School and Elementary Academy governing boards met Monday evening to discuss the results of the 2012-13 Local Report Cards issued to school districts last month by the Ohio Department of Education, and to announce their plan for a new school building.
“We want our community to understand where we’re at academically and performance-wise, as we begin the process of building new facilities as soon as possible,” said Sciotoville Governing Board President Bill Shope.
When the state released its new report card system last month, grades K-4 at the Sciotoville Elementary Academy (SEA) earned a C for meeting three of four state standards, a C for performance index, and a C for Overall Value-Added. Districts will not be given an overall district grade until 2015. Sommer Picklesimer, director of curriculum and instruction, presented these results to the governing board Monday evening to provide greater context and explanation.
“This new system really, it’s really not fair to reflect the true happenings and the true achievements of what’s going on with our students,” Picklesimer said.
Addressing the SEA performance index, she said most of the students (75.9 percent) were graded “proficient” or better, for a total point score of 93.3 out of 120 possible points. That’s a slight improvement from 93.1 last year.
“The way they’re figuring grades, as opposed to ‘excellent’ and ‘effective’ and ‘continuous improvement,’ it’s also being figured a lot harder. Because that 93.3 performance index would have gotten the SEA an ‘effective’ rating, whereas if you’re going to an A-to-F report card that C would have been about a ‘continuous improvement’,” said Sciotoville Superintendent Rick Bowman. “That’s one of the things we want people to be aware. We’re still doing some things pretty well, but the new report card is giving us a lot of things we need to take a look at.”
On the issue of indicators, Picklesimer said the elementary met three of their four standards — 3rd grade reading (75.9 percent), 4th grade reading (88 percent — up from 64.3 percent last year), and for the first time picked up 4th grade math (76 percent). The school fell short, however, in 3rd grade math with 65.5 percent.
“In the grand scheme of things, when you’re talking about 25 students that’s only maybe four or five students that didn’t pass (3rd grade math),” Picklesimer said.
Turning to progress, the elementary earned a C grade in Overall Value-Added.
“What value added means is, it looks at various data-points over time. So for instance, our 3rd graders this past year, it will take their results — their data points from their OAA (Ohio Achievement Assessment) and compare them next year in the 4th grade; it will project how they should score based on how they scored in the 3rd grade test. No matter how they scored, it says, ‘OK, if they got in another year of good teaching, this is where they should score next year’,” Picklesimer said.
The elementary’s 4th grade value-added progress score is an average of the past three years, which Picklesimer says does not fairly represent their last year’s performance. If it did, she said, they would have scored much higher.
“The reports that were just released by (the Ohio Department of Education) … when you go into just this previous year and look at our reports, we are above, way above, value-added,” Picklesimer said. “If we would have had that with the old system, we would have been ‘excellent,’ because not only were we ‘effective’ with that performance index at 93.3, we were above value-added measure and would have been into the ‘excellent’ category. Unfortunately with the new system, the way they average the three-year gain, we are at a C.”
After examining the elementary report card, Picklesimer turned her attention to grades 5-12 at Sciotoville Community School — which earned an F for meeting nine of 20 state standards, a C for performance index (improving from 84.5 percent last year to 87.4 percent this year), and a C for Overall Value-Added.
“You can get blinded by the grades and fail to see that we improved three points on the performance index. That’s a pretty big jump. What it means is we moved kids out of proficient and into accelerated, or out of accelerated into advanced, or we moved them out of basic into proficient. We were moving kids up, and every student that moves up one level increases that performance index,” Bowman said.
Discussing their indicators, the 10th grade OGT achieved all five of their indicators (math, reading, science, social studies, and writing), and the 11th grade OGT met three; missing only science and social studies. It was at the middle school and junior high where the school had the most struggle, meeting only their 8th grade reading indicator and missing all the rest. Picklesimer said middle school is the most challenging grades for all school districts, and many saw drops in achievement this year.
“If the high school had its own report card, we would have had a B,” she said.
Bowman said the school has worked very hard to meet the previous state standards, only to have it all changed this year.
“Just when we thought we knew all the answers, they changed all the questions,” he said. “This is not like just adding a proficiency test. I mean, we’re adding Common Core, we’re adding in course exams, we’re adding in OTES and OPES and FIT and all these words that aren’t words, just letters put together and we don’t even know what they mean. And yet we’re expected to do all these things and still help kids learn everyday. Sometimes it don’t go together. Sometimes it’s hard to put it together and figure it out, but that’s sort of where we are,” Bowman said.
Shope praised the school for 12 years of positive performance, and likened this year’s report card to having one bad inning of a winning game.
“Since we separated from Portsmouth City Schools 12 years ago, it’s been a record of academic achievement. Year after year we’ve been rated effective. We’ve never fallen below continuous improvement under the old guidelines. The grading system has changed … and we want to make this better. I think our community and everybody here should recognize it for what it is. We always need to improve, but when you look at the big picture we are still a very, very high-performing academic entity, considering our demographic,” Shope said.
The schools’ complete report cards are available online at reportcard.education.ohio.gov.
After discussing their report card results, Shope announced a public meeting in October to share with the Sciotoville community the school’s plan for new facilities and to hear their questions and comments. No further details about the building, or the school’s plans, were announced. The specific date of the public meeting will be announced at a later time.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Ryan on Twitter @PDTwriter.