Higher standards lead to lower grades

By Scott Halasz


XENIA — Xenia Community School district administrators were not shocked when they saw a number of low grades on state report cards released Thursday.

Xenia was graded in six areas and received a D or F in all but one — graduation rate. The district had just one F last year but Director of Instructional Services Sabrina Woodruff had an idea that lower scores were possible.

“We knew that the proficiency levels were increased this year and we also knew that taking the assessments online was also going to probably have an impact as well,” she said. “In grades three through eight, what was the first time that those students have taken a state assessment in the online platform. We did know that there would be a learning curve there. So we got that first year under our belts.”

The components are Achievement, Progress, Gap Closing, Graduation Rate, K-3 Literacy and Prepared for Success. While the department has given letter grades on most of the individual measures for several years, new this year are letter grades on each of the six components.

The Achievement component of the report card represents whether student performance on state tests met established thresholds and how well students performed on tests overall. Xenia received a D for the component and the performance index and an F for the number of indicators met. There was a drastic drop in the percentage of indicators met — 51 percent last year and 13 percent this year — but it didn’t surprise Woodruff.

“There was a significant change in the percentage of students who had to achieve proficiency to meet the indicator,” she said. “It’s going up again next year. We’ve got some things in place that we are doing at the district and building level to help close the gap.”

She said last school year the district improved core instruction and officials this year are developing a targeted intervention system to make sure students who need it are receiving help. Woodruff added that the district is integrating more technology so students can before more comfortable with online assessments.

The Progress component looks closely at the growth that all students are making based on their past performances. Are students gaining a year’s worth or growth? Are they gaining more or less? It includes the progress of all students, gifted students, the lowest 20 percent of students in Achievement and students with disabilities. Xenia received an F for that as well as for the four categories, but Woodruff said she wanted to look at how the grades were determined this year compared to last year before commenting.

Xenia also received Fs for Gap Closing and K-3 Literacy. The Gap Closing component shows how well schools are meeting the performance expectations for the most vulnerable populations of students in English language arts, math and graduation. The literacy component looks at how successful the school is at getting struggling readers on track to proficiency in third grade and beyond.

Xenia’s four and five year graduation rates received Cs. Slightly more than 84 percent graduated in four years, while just under 90 percent graduated in five years.

Xenia’s grade for Prepared for Success, a new component which looks at how well prepared students are for all future opportunities, was a D.

Overall, Woodruff wasn’t overly disappointed.

“I feel we are probably not unlike many districts in that the standard has been raised and we are putting plans in place to meet those goals,” she said. “I am very proud of the work. We’ll get there.”

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

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