Sep 13, 2018

State Report Card Indicates Ongoing Progress

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Every aspect of our lives seems to be under a magnifying glass with an eye on progress. It’s no different with school districts. At Pickerington Schools, we constantly assess students and teachers and gauge the progress they are making toward educational goals.

We aren’t the only ones looking at where we stand as a district. The state releases a report card each year assessing each district and each building.

This year, for the first time, the state has assigned an overall letter grade for each district. It is calculated by using results in six components: Achievement, Progress, Gap Closing, Improving At-Risk K-3 Readers, Graduation Rate, and Prepared for Success.

While we always strive to improve, we are generally pleased with what we’re seeing on the most recent report card. There is progress in almost every area assessed by the state. Our scores are pretty much exactly where we would have expected them to be, based on the internal data we monitor throughout the year.

An overall B score is in line with, and in some cases better than, our peer districts around the state.

We can attribute a lot of our improvement to the work we are implementing through our Continuous Improvement Plan and individual Building Improvement Plan processes.

One highlight in the report card is an A in the Gap Closing component, which is an indication that our schools are meeting the performance expectations for our most vulnerable students, including students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students, English learners, and racial minorities.

We also continue to be pleased with the A we received for graduating 96.7 percent of our students in 4 years and 98.7 percent of our students in five years.

Another key area is Improving At-Risk K-3 Readers. The district was able to ensure that 99.1 percent of our third-graders were competent enough at reading to be promoted to the fourth grade.

Our lowest mark was in the area of Prepared for Success, which gauges how well students are prepared for future opportunities. While a D score is certainly something we know we can improve upon, this year’s percentage (52.9%) of prepared students is actually higher than it was on last year’s report card.  The grade last year was higher – a C – because the benchmark to gauge success in this area has been raised.

Ultimately, we are seeing a pattern of growth across the board. We are meeting more of the required indicators, our numbers are climbing in key areas of focus, and we are in line with our peer districts.

As a district, we cannot and do not ignore the important data that makes up the Pickerington Schools report card. As a district, we invest untold hours evaluating that data to identify where we’re making progress. We also look for areas for improvement and adjust what and how we teach to affect change for our students. But we know we are so much more than a letter grade or a test score. The members of our community rightfully expect us to be more – to provide the kind of educational opportunities and learning environments our children deserve and that will prepare them for college and careers.

We care about the report card because it’s a benchmark, but beyond that letter or number on a computer screen or printout, what are we doing to make our students more well-rounded? What are we doing to address the needs of each individual student?

That is an important reason why we are in the process of working with our community to create the Plan for Progress. We want our goals to reflect the goals of our staff and our community.

When we surveyed the community earlier this year, many responded that they would like for the district to focus less on standardized tests. That is precisely why we are so excited about the Plan for Progress.

As I’ve described before, the Plan for Progress will be like a roadmap for our future; one that ensures we are attaining greater levels of efficiency, reaching a higher level of community trust and graduating students who are prepared for today’s world.

Our three core goals will be centered around academic excellence, efficient operations, and modern facilities. So, the areas of focus that comprise the state’s report card will be highlighted in what we are accomplishing, but we will also be more well-rounded, from the administration all the way down to our youngest students.

By the end of the 2018-19 school year we will have communicated back and forth with the community, defined and created goals and initiatives, presented an action plan, built awareness, and committed to progress for our schools.

If we are successful in developing and implementing the Plan for Progress, its results will be reflected not only on the state report card but in the breadth of opportunities and quality of education we are providing to our students.

Pickerington Schools is made up of every student, all our teachers, counselors, coaches, and school leaders, as well as every custodian, bus driver, secretary, food service worker, and aide. Our parents, non-parent taxpayers and every graduate make up who we are as a district.

We are Panthers. We are Tigers. We are Pickerington and we are proud.