Report card improvements

Wapakoneta City Schools have again been ranked effective, with three of the district’s four buildings receiving excellent ratings.

The information is based on preliminary 2012 state report card data released by the state to Wapakoneta City School’s Superintendent Keith Horner. Due to cheating concerns at the state level this year by some schools in the state, Ohio Department of Education (ODE) officials have delayed the release of each district’s information to the public as it typically does in the middle of August.

Based on preliminary data released to school districts by the ODE, Wapakoneta City Schools met 24 of 26 indicators, meeting 92.3 percent of state indicators, which is tied for the highest percentage achieved to date by the district on state report cards. The percentage was last achieved on the state report card in 2005-06.

Last year, the district scored an 88 percent and met 23 of 26 indicators.

The district has been designated as effective since 2004-05, before which it had been labeled continuous improvement.

“We’re very, very happy with our report card,” Horner told the Wapakoneta Daily News. “We are making progress.”

He said during the 10-year history of the state measure of schools, the district has made a “nice, steady, upward trend.”

“We are certainly proud of that,” Horner said, commending students, teachers, principals and parents for their hard work to make that happen. “It’s what they are doing in the classrooms that makes this possible. It shows how extremely important that is and all the good things that are happening.”

Every building except Wapakoneta Middle School achieved excellent rankings this year and across the board from third- through 11th-grades, students met state standards in all but fifth-grade reading and math.

Reading and math standards are required to be met by third- and sixth-graders, with writing added in fourth grade; social studies and science are added in fifth grade and writing not required at that level; reading, writing and math standards are required in seventh grade; reading, math, social studies and science standards are required to be met in eighth grade, and writing is added for both 10th and 11th grade students.

To meet state standards, students must at least achieve 75 percent scores in the tested subjects. In all subject areas except the two they did not meet in fifth-grade reading and math, Wapakoneta students scored above the 75 percent state standard.

Horner said for the last few years the district did not meet standards for fifth- or eighth-grade science, but they kept at those areas where they were struggling.

“We kept trying to get better and it paid off last year,” Horner said, noting that fifth-grade reading and math scores also have been up and down in the past, but that they will have to keep digging deeper to get them where they need to be.

“Overall in the big picture, we are excelling at reading and math,” he said, noting that there are grade levels where the district is performing very well in the two fundamental subjects.

The district’s attendance rate at 95.8 percent met state indicators, as did the graduation rate at 92.1 percent. Some school districts have filed inaccurate attendance records to achieve higher report card grades.

Horner said the attendance rate is something district administrators constantly monitor and that remains pretty consistent.

“We are happy with where we are at,” Horner said.

He said the graduation rate, which is now being measured differently, is more controversial with recent changes making most district’s rates drop. Again, district administrators plan to continue to monitor it.

“We are still watching how it pans out,” Horner said of changes which would count special needs students as non-graduates if they don’t graduate with their class, although the district is required to educate them through their 22nd birthdays, so they are still attending school.

Again according to the preliminary state report card data, Wapakoneta City Schools did not meet the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) measure.

“It is simply not a realistic measurement,” Horner said. “That is why it is going to be changed.

“The Feds wasted so much time and energy pushing something that is not an attainable goal,” he said. “Now that they can’t get it, they are backing off. No district would obtain this if we continued on the path we’re on.”

The plan is for an AYP measure to no longer be included in state report card ratings in the future.

Value added ratings, which look at expected gains for each child compared to actual gains, are not expected to be available until final numbers are released by the state.

“Like anything we are very happy and think there are reasons to celebrate,” Horner said. “Any year there are areas we can get better. I don’t think we are being professional if we didn’t say that.”

Horner also reported the district’s ACT average continued to climb for the third year in a row, with the spread between Wapakoneta students’ ACT average and the state average the largest it has been in 10 years. Wapakoneta’s ACT average is 22.7 and the state’s average is 21.8.

While it does not factor into the report card ratings at this point and instead reflects how ready students are for college, in the future, Horner anticipates the test being expanded to include end of course exams and holding more weight.

“We encourage kids to take it and have set up the high school as a site so they are comfortable,” Horner said.