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Yellow Springs Schools receive five-star rating

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At the second annual “State of the Schools” event, held Thursday, Oct. 5, in the McKinney Middle School and YS High School Media Center, Superintendent Terri Holden announced that YS Schools received an overall five-star rating — the highest rating possible — on its 2022–23 state report card, which was released by the Ohio Department of Education in September.

“We’ve had a lot of difficulties, and we all know what the past five years have been like,” Holden said in discussing the report card. “So this is a testament to the hard work of your children, to the hard work of the teachers and staff here, that we have performed this well.”

The state transitioned last year from presenting report card results as letter grades to the star rating system. Though individual categories within the report were given star ratings, no overall ratings were awarded last year. Yellow Springs Schools and Bellbrook Sugarcreek Local were the only two districts in Greene County to receive five stars.

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Using state testing and other diagnostic reports, the annual report card measures school districts and individual schools within five categories: achievement, progress, early literacy, gap closing and graduation.

In the category of achievement, YS Schools averaged 83.8%, receiving a four-star rating that indicates exceeding state standards. In order to be classified as “proficient,” districts must average 80% across all grades. The rating is based on state testing results for students in grades 3–8 and select high school grades in English language arts, math, social studies and science.

Though progress results across the board reflected an improvement over last year’s report card, the largest improvement was in math, with an average proficiency of 73.4%, compared to last year’s 54%. Holden attributed the jump in progress to the district implementing “a stronger, multi-tiered system to support students who might struggle” with math.

Early literacy also improved in the district, with its rating rising to four stars from three last year, and 83.8% of third-graders demonstrating reading proficiency, compared with last year’s 75.6%.

The district received five stars — up from four last year — in the area of gap closing; this metric demonstrates how well a district meets performance expectations across academic subjects, graduation, supporting language proficiency for English language learners, reducing chronic absenteeism and identifying and providing services for gifted students. As it did last year, the district also received five stars in the category of graduation, reflecting a graduation rate of 98.2%.

Reflecting on the results, Holden said that though they represent good news, “it doesn’t mean there’s not work to be done.” In particular, she said that the district will be putting more focus on supporting students with regard to writing. She also identified chronic absenteeism as an area where the district hopes to improve; the report card reflected that 30.2% of students were chronically absent last school year.

Holden stated that student absences will be a topic of discussion at an upcoming school board work session on Tuesday, Oct. 24.

Strategic plan

Holden also spoke about the district’s recently adopted 2023–26 strategic plan, which was conceived last winter by a group made up of district administration and staff and members of the community.

“It looks different from other district strategic plans — we should be proud of this,” she said. “This was a big success for us and will guide us for the next few years.”

The plan conceived by the group includes seven identified community values:

• A diverse and inclusive community;
• Supporting and nurturing all students on their learning journey;
• Encouraging critical thinking, problem solving, active inquiry and positive action;
• Students, families, and staff who are involved, engaged and curious;
• Education in harmony with the environment;
• The arts as integral to core learning;
• Collaborative and consistent communication and conversation.

Thus far, the district has responded to the identified values of the strategic plan by implementing new STEM programming at both the elementary and middle schools this year. Looking ahead, Holden said the district is also working with alumni to create funding that will support student experiences connected to the schools’ academic mission, including off-campus trips to area educational venues.

To watch the full “State of the Schools” event, go to

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