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Students sail by state exam

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By design of the evaluation tool, the Yellow Springs school district fell this year from “excellent with distinction” to just “excellent” in its quality designation on the State of Ohio report card. But the apparent reduction in status was merely a technical result of the State’s metrics, as the district received exactly the same student-wide achievement score as last year, when it was labeled “excellent with distinction” for the second consecutive year.

“It’s hard to get [distinction] three years in a row — the system is kind of deceptive,” Basora said.

The achievement score, known as the performance index, is based on the combined test scores in all subjects for students in grades three through 11 who annually take the Ohio Achievement Test and the Ohio Graduation Test. Yellow Springs earned a score of 102.9 both this year and last, which are the highest scores the district has achieved in recent memory.

“The performance index is the best evaluator, and the past two years are still the two highest scores in a long time,” Basora said.

But in order to earn the highest rating “with distinction,” a district must meet an annual improvement increase based on predictive trends established by the previous year’s test. When the district improves two years in a row, the test predicts, based on that trend, that students will continue to improve by the same amount in the third year. It can only be achieved by making more than one year’s projected growth, which is very difficult to do, Basora said, adding that it’s the same reason other good schools, such as Oakwood, also lost their “distinction” status this year.

Report cards from the Ohio Department of Education were late this year due to a finding that a few of the districts around the state had reported false attendance numbers. The state conducted an audit early in the fall and is just now releasing the preliminary report card data to most of the districts, according to ODE spokesperson John Charlton.

According to Yellow Springs’ preliminary report, all classes except one in grades three through 11 scored proficient (75 percent or above) in reading, math, science, writing and social studies. Only 73 percent of fourth-grade students achieved proficiency in fourth-grade math, compared to last year when 91 percent of fourth graders were proficient.

While Yellow Springs has continued to measure up well to state standards, the district is committed to measuring itself by its own set of values and expectations. The district’s current “internal quality standards” currently measure things such as the breadth of course offerings, diversity of both the staff and the student body, the levels of participation in academic and co- and extra-curricular activities by group, community and parental support and involvement, both financial and volunteer.

This year the district aims to modify its internal quality standards to reflect the current and changing nuances of what the community would like to see in its schools.


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