The release of the remaining state report card data Wednesday revealed one district and eight schools in Washington County with excellent ratings, including four buildings that met or exceeded 100 percent of state performance indicators.
The data for the 2011-12 school year is still considered preliminary until an investigation by the Ohio Auditor's office into attendance tampering in some districts is completed. Until then, the familiar state report card documents will not be published, although much of the data that determines them is now available in a spreadsheet format at education.ohio.gov.
Initial data was released in late September, providing a pretty good idea of where districts would fall. All of the 26 indicators except for attendance were included in that initial release. The overall performance index score and rating - ranging from "excellent with distinction" to "academic emergency" - were also omitted.
The Wolf Creek Local school district met all indicators in the performance index, meaning 75 percent or more of students tested proficient in 24 different subjects and grade levels and the district's attendance and graduation levels met or exceeded state requirements. Both Waterford High and Elementary School met all indicators and received excellent ratings.
Wolf Creek Superintendent Bob Caldwell said last month that the ratings reflect support from staff, students and the community but noted the district still has goals to work toward, as it did not meet the adequate yearly progress standard, which measures whether students are improving at the required rate.
The Fort Frye Local, Frontier Local, Marietta City and Warren Local districts all received effective ratings. Belpre City Schools was the only district in Washington County to receive a rating of continuous improvement, while Belpre Elementary School garnered the only academic watch rating in the county.
"We're not satisfied with the results obviously, but (we) believe our kids and teachers are working hard, and we're going to continue to work ... to make sure our kids achieve at a higher rate," Belpre Superintendent Tony Dunn said.
Eight schools in Washington County received excellent ratings. In addition to the Wolf Creek schools, Fort Frye's Beverly-Center Elementary and Warren Local's Little Hocking Elementary met all of the performance indicators on which they were assessed.
Only Waterford High School accomplished that feat for 2010-11, although the other three who did it this year were just one indicator away then.
Also receiving excellent ratings were Marietta's Putnam Elementary School, Warren's Barlow-Vincent Elementary and Fort Frye and Warren high schools.
"It's very rewarding to be the superintendent of a district - and I'm speaking of Fort Frye and Warren - that have faculty and staff that really have the best interests of kids at heart when they come to work," said Tom Gibbs, superintendent of both districts.
Warren's district rating was excellent last year, thanks to a boost from the value-added measure, which showed that for two consecutive years, students had achieved more than a year's worth of learning in a year's time. This year, the district met, but did not exceed, that threshold.
"From my perspective, it's pretty incredible that we've at least maintained," Gibbs said.
The district made a number of significant cuts prior to the start of the 2011-12 school year in an effort to free up general fund money for major building repairs following multiple failures of a bond issue to build new schools. Among them was the reduction of about 20 staff members, a dozen of them teachers.
"We increased class size; we decreased the amount of intervention available; we no longer provide high school transportation," said Gibbs, adding that it would take extensive study to determine what effect if any the elimination of high school busing had on the factors that go into determining the value-added score.
Maintaining excellent and effective ratings "just speaks incredibly well of the teaching faculty who works with the kids everyday and the kids and their families, who come to school prepared to learn every day," he said.
Gibbs noted that Fort Frye, of which he became superintendent in May, has had some obstacles to overcome, including changes in leadership and not being a part of the Appalachian Collaborative organization by virtue of not participating in the Race to the Top funding program. He praised the leadership of high school Principal Susan Rauch and district director of instruction Noreen Mullens as well as teachers who have worked on their own to learn and improve their practices.
"I am impressed with the work ethic of the faculty here," he said.
The other schools in the Fort Frye and Warren districts earned effective ratings, including Salem-Liberty Elementary, which was classified as continuous improvement for 2010-11.
Of the schools that were rated excellent this year, only Putnam Elementary did not achieve the designation last year.
Overall, Marietta City Schools maintained its effective designation from the previous year. Phillips and Washington elementaries also kept effective ratings, while Harmar dropped to continuous improvement.
Also rated with continuous improvement were Belpre High School and Frontier's Newport Elementary School.
Frontier Superintendent Bruce Kidder said action is already planned to address areas of need at the school, including increased intervention services during the school day and in the form of after-school tutoring.
Kidder noted that some of the lowest overall scores were in the sixth grade, and those students have already moved on to the middle/high school. That means efforts will not focus solely on Newport.
"We'll look at what we can do for those seventh-grade students who actually need something," he said.
Kidder noted one of the advantages of being a smaller district is that it's easier to identify which students need assistance in which areas.
As a district, Frontier met the same number of indicators for 2011-12 as it did the previous year.
The Belpre City district and both of its schools received effective ratings for 2010-11. For several of the test results this year, they were within a handful of students of meeting the performance indicator.
Even before the scores were released, Dunn said the district was focused on improving its math performance. For example, several teachers attended a professional development program at Marietta College over the summer dealing with math concepts and teaching strategies.
"We're hoping that those efforts are going to pay off ... with this year's scores," Dunn said.
Six of Belpre's eight grade levels tested did not attain 75 percent proficiency in math.