WMS and WHS rate ‘excellent’ on state reports, still concerns

Wapakoneta Middle and High schools both received designations of excellent on their schools’ state report cards recently released by the Ohio Department of Education.
Administrators at the schools said they are pleased with their successes, but, of course, have areas upon which they continue to work.
“We had some very good areas and some areas of concern,” Wapakoneta Middle School Principal Ray Payne said.
Wapakoneta Middle School met six of eight indicators, scored 98.1 of a possible 120 on the performance index, did not meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and scored above expected growth in the value-added measure, according to its state report card.
Payne said students performed well in sixth- and seventh-grade math and language arts, but fifth-grade remained a concern.
“As we reflect on some of the issues going on, fifth-grade is a unique animal,” Payne said. “It tests not only what they are learning in fifth-grade, but tests them on what they learned in third- and fourth-grade as well.”
He said they are working on doing a better job of reviewing that information in fifth-grade so children do a better job remembering it.
“As a school, we know we are accountable and we want them to do the best they can, but we also
want to keep it in perspective,” Payne said.
He said in addition to the knowledge students are tested on to achieve scores on state report cards, it’s also important to educators that they become kind, caring citizens of the community. One way is through demonstration of the six pillars of character, which are stressed at the school.
“I wish they rated us on that,” Payne said. “I feel we’re at the top of the class in that. I’m very proud of our students and the kind of citizens they are.”
He said the state measures are important and students and teachers are “working their butts off to do the best they can.”
“I feel good about our efforts and we will continue to challenge ourselves more,” Payne said. “We were very close, but close doesn’t count.”
He said AYP sets standards which schools must meet each year when it comes to educating particular learning groups, in Wapakoneta’s case, the economically disadvantaged and students with learning disability subgroups in reading and math. Each year the standards which must be met increase.
“We’ve been so close it’s crazy,” Payne said of the school’s failure to meet AYP in math for students with disabilities. “I’m not making excuses, but they do raise the standards. We need to rise to the challenge to meet them.”
In looking at the school’s performance index, Payne said scores are increasing in the measure, which factors in more weight for students who perform better on tests.
“It’s a good sign,” he said.
In the value-added measure, which looks at whether students are meeting expected growth over a year, Payne said they met it in every area and were over in math in all three grades, as well as sixth-grade reading.
Payne said data from the report cards is used in many ways to help better educate students.
“One thing we work very hard at is self-analysis of the data,” the principal said.
Already just a few days into the school year, on Wednesday, staff members were looking at tests from last year and breaking the information down by questions on which students struggled to help teachers better their approach.
“From there, we address students we currently have in class and how they compare to last year, if they lost something over the summer,” Payne said. “Data drives our curriculum, what we teach and what we place emphasis on.”
Wapakoneta High School Principal Aaron Rex voiced his pleasure with the test results, too.
“I feel that we have a lot to be proud of at WHS and we will continue to look for ways to accomplish our mission, ‘to be the leader in providing excellent educational opportunities for our students,’” Rex said after the results of the 2010-11 school year report card were announced.
The school met all 12 indicators, scored 102.7 out of a possible 120 points on the performance index, and met Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), according to its state report card.
“We were really pleased with the results at the high school,” Rex said. “We were able to meet AYP as our scores among our special education students went up nearly 40 points in both reading and math in the 10th grade. This is very hard to accomplish as many schools across the state continue to struggle to meet that standard.”
Rex said he credits the staff and implementation of inclusion in making the difference.
“Our teachers worked very hard together in the classroom to help our students achieve this goal,” Rex said. “We were able to earn all 12 points toward our grade card and that is always our goal.”
A 98 percent graduate rate is another area of pride for the district.
“When we look at other items to be excited about, we were first in 10th-grade writing and math among 20 comparable districts across the state,” Rex said. “In reading, we were able to score in the top five.”
Eighth-graders earned three of four possible points and are continuing to work hard to pick up that last point in the area of science, Rex said.
Eighth-graders, which are tallied separately from the middle and high schools as “Wapakoneta Junior High,” were labeled effective for the 2010-11 school year and met three of four indicators, scored 95.6 of 120 possible points on the performance index, did not meet AYP and fell below the value-added measure of growth within a year, according to the results.
On another note, Rex said high school students scored their highest ACT scores in the past six years, averaging a 22.4. The national average is 21.8.