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Schools earn highest honor

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For two consecutive years Yellow Springs students showed continuous academic improvement, which raised the school district’s designation from a school of excellence to a school of excellence with distinction, the highest rating in the state. The Ohio Department of Education based the district’s report card on the scores of Ohio Achievement Tests that students in third through 11th grades took last spring. While the district-wide report is available online, individual OAT scores were mailed to students’ households last week.

“Yellow Springs made more than one year’s progress with our kids, and that is probably the most positive sign of the great work teachers are doing here,” Yellow Springs Superintendent Mario Basora said this week. “That ultimately should be the greatest measure of success for growing and learning.”

Students in third through eighth grade and 10th and 11th grade took mostly math and reading tests, with some science, writing and social studies for certain grades only. According to state standard, to meet a test indicator, at least 75 percent of students must score proficient or higher. Yellow Springs students met the indicators for all 24 tests and achieved over 75 percent attendance and graduation rates to score 26 out of 26 indicators, according to the report card. And because the scores improved over the past two years, the district demonstrated adequate yearly progress as well as continuous improvement over time.

While the home district scored about 10 percentage points higher than the state averages, the data also compared Yellow Springs with other districts of similar size and socio-economic standing, which outperformed Yellow Springs in about two-thirds of the tests. Even with strong schools, there is always room for improvement, according to Basora, who came to Yellow Springs this year from a Cincinnati middle school that is one of the best schools in the state.

“We have all the ingredients necessary to be the best school in the state of Ohio,” Basora said this week. “I came from that, and I know what it takes.”

The data indicate that special education students in particular need more support, and Basora is poised to work with teachers and administrators to develop a systemic plan this school year to help those students find success, he said. The school needs to find ways to address academic issues for students both on and off of individualized education plans (IEP). Currently about 16 percent of the district’s students are on an IEP.

“Our special ed challenge is a district problem — the ownership is on all of us,” he said.

Test scores can help identify students who are struggling, but the school needs to use other classroom assessments to diagnose the root of the academic breakdown for each student and prescribe an individual plan to ensure each student’s success, Basora said.

A link to the full report card can be found at .

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