Minster, Russia receive A’s on Ohio School Report Cards

By Kyle Shaner - kshaner@sidneydailynews.com

SIDNEY – Minster Local Schools and Russia Local School both received overall A grades for a second consecutive year on their Ohio School Report Cards, which were released Thursday by the Ohio Department of Education.

Minster and Russia were among 31 school districts statewide to earn an overall A on the 2018-19 Ohio School Report Cards. Of the 608 school districts graded by the Department of Education, only 5.1 percent received an overall A grade.

“Very proud of the hard work the students and staff turn in on a daily basis,” Minster Superintendent Brenda Boeke said. “The state report card is just one measure in evaluating the effectiveness of schools. Our mission is to challenge today’s students to become tomorrow’s leaders. We’ll use the report card to help us improve to meet our mission.”

Russia Superintendent Steve Rose also was proud of his district’s performance.

“I think it’s due to the dedication and hard work of the teachers and students and the community in general here,” Rose said. “And I’m very proud of their accomplishments.”

This is the second time the Ohio Department of Education has released overall grades for school districts. The grades are calculated using the results in six categories: Achievement, Progress, Graduation Rate, Gap Closing, Improving At-Risk K-3 Readers and Prepared for Success.

Russia improved from a B to an A in both the Prepared for Success and Progress components.

The Progress component looks at the growth all students make based on their past performances while the Prepared for Success component looks at how prepared students are for all future opportunities.

Rose was pleased to see Russia’s improvements in both categories.

“Especially for the Prepared for Success, that’s a hard one to get,” he said, crediting the district’s students for taking college courses and excelling on ACT tests for the improvement. “I’m very excited about that.”

Russia received a B in the Achievement component, which represents the number of students who passed state tests and how well they performed on them. It also includes an indicator that measures the percentage of students who miss too much school.

The B in Achievement prevented Russia from joining Chagrin Falls Exempted Village Schools, Rocky River City Schools, Solon City Schools and Madeira City Schools in achieving all A’s on the 2018-19 Ohio School Report Cards.

“If you look at the GPA of all the districts, we’re ranked fifth in the state (behind the four straight A schools),” Rose said.

While he was pleased with his district’s performance, Rose agreed with Boeke and other school administrators that the report card shouldn’t be considered a comprehensive view of a school.

“There’s many factors that go into a school’s overall success,” he said. “This is one of many indicators of the school’s success. It’s not the most important thing. It is a sign of how our students are doing academically.”

Elsewhere, Anna Local Schools, Botkins Local School, Fort Loramie Local Schools, New Bremen Schools, New Knoxville School, Riverside Local Schools and Versailles Exempted Village School District each received a B on the 2018-19 Ohio School Report Cards. They were among 169 districts statewide, 27.8 percent, to receive a B.

New Knoxville improved from a C on the 2017-18 report card to a B for 2018-19. While it’s great to see improvement, Superintendent Kim Waterman said, she doesn’t spend much time dwelling on the Ohio School Report Cards.

“The pride comes in knowing that we’re going into our classrooms, talking to our students, working with our teachers day in and day out, that’s my pride,” Waterman said. “In my heart of hearts, I know we are doing everything we possibly can (to prepare our students). Not just based on this report card but day in and day out with our students.”

New Knoxville’s improvement in its overall grade was helped in large part by going from an F to a C in the Progress component of the report card.

With such a small school – New Knoxville has 21 students in this year’s senior class – a single student’s results can drastically affect scores, Waterman said. So she takes a close look at the data but prefers to focus on overall trends rather than a single report.

“I don’t dwell on the report card,” Waterman said. “I don’t want our staff to dwell on it.”

Like New Knoxville, Riverside improved from a C on the 2017-18 report card to a B for 2018-19. The district improved from a B to an A in the Gap Closing component and improved from a D to an A in the Improving At-Risk K-3 Readers component.

Improving At-Risk K-3 Readers measures a district’s success in getting struggling readers on track to proficiency in third grade and beyond. The Gap Closing component measures how districts meet the performance expectations for all students, especially the most vulnerable populations of students, in English language arts, math and graduation.

Riverside did fall from an A to a B in the Progress component of the report card.

Fairlawn Local Schools, Hardin-Houston Local School and Jackson Center Local Schools each received a C on the 2018-19 Ohio School Report Cards. They were among 282 schools statewide, 46.4 percent, to receive a C.

Hardin-Houston and Jackson Center both dropped from a B on the 2017-18 Ohio School Report Cards to a C on the 2018-19 report cards.

Jackson Center’s overall grade was hurt by dropping from a B to a C in the Progress component of the report card. However, the district did improve from a C to a B in the Improving At-Risk K-3 Readers component.

Hardin-Houston’s overall grade was hurt by dropping from a C to a D in Achievement, from a B to a C in Progress and from an A to a B in Gap Closing.

Hardin-Houston did see improvement in other areas, improving from a B to an A in Graduation Rate and from an F to a D in Prepared for Success. The Graduation Rate component is determined by what percentage of students earn a high school diploma in four or five years.

Sidney City Schools received a D on the 2018-19 Ohio School Report Cards. Sidney was one of 122 schools in the state, 20.1 percent, to receive a D.

Sidney Superintendent Bob Humble said he’s not happy with the grades the district received, but he is happy with the progress it’s making.

“If you compare just the grades themselves, if you just look at the letter grades from this year to last year, they’re identical,” he said. “But if you dig in a little bit deeper, you can see some good, positive progress we made.”

Humble pointed to the Achievement category, in which Sidney met three indicators in 2018-19 – in eighth grade science, high school End of Course Improvement and chronic absenteeism – after meeting none the previous year. He also said the district has made progress in its graduation rate, improving from a four-year rate of 85.9 percent to 86.5 percent.

“Which to me is one of the best indicators of what we should be doing,” Humble said. “Our goal should be to graduate kids.”

Another positive result for Sidney was in the Improving At-Risk K-3 Readers category, Humble said, with a 5 percent improvement.

“I think the important measures, we’re moving forward, and that’s what I want to see,” he said. “I want to see continuous improvement over that, and I think we’re doing that.”

Humble expects Sidney City Schools to continue making progress and thinks the district’s reconfiguration of its elementary schools will help its push for continued improvement. Having all the teachers of a particular grade level in the same building, a change that occurred this school year, will help teachers collaborate and make them more effective, he said.

“It’s a lot easier to improve when you can bounce ideas off another person,” Humble said. “It’s hard to do that when you’re in four different buildings.”

Ultimately, Humble said the most important thing is for Sidney to prepare its students to be successful in college or the workforce, and he thinks the district is succeeding in that mission.

“I don’t believe this report card adequately shows that,” he said.

Statewide, four districts – East Cleveland City Schools, Jefferson Township Local Schools, Springfield City School District and Youngstown City Youngstown City School District – received an F on the 2018-19 Ohio School Report Cards.

For more information about the 2018-19 Ohio School Report Cards, visit https://reportcard.education.ohio.gov/ and https://www.limaohio.com/reportcards.

School district 2018-19 Overall Grade 2017-18 Overall Grade Achievement Progress Graduation Rate Gap Closing Improving At-Risk K-3 Readers Prepared for Success
Anna B B B B A A B C
Botkins B B B B A A NR F
Fairlawn C C D B A C C F
Fort Loramie B B B D A A NR B
Hardin-Houston C B D C A B C D
Jackson Center C B C C B A B D
Minster A A B B A A B B
New Bremen B B B B A A A D
New Knoxville B C B C A A C D
Riverside B C D B A A A F
Russia A A B A A A NR A
Sidney D D D D C B D F
Versailles B B B B A A C C

By Kyle Shaner


Reach this writer at kshaner@sidneydailynews.com or 937-538-4824.

Reach this writer at kshaner@sidneydailynews.com or 937-538-4824.