Youngstown schools stay lowest ranked in Valley

By Denise Dick


Final school report cards released Wednesday by the Ohio Department of Education look a lot like those issued last October.

2011-12 designations for all Mahoning Valley school districts remain the same with Austintown, Poland, West Branch, Bloomfield- Mesopotamia, Joseph Badger, Lakeview and Weathersfield earning the highest mark of “excellent with distinction.”

Youngstown is designated “academic watch,” the same rating it earned in the 2010-11 state-issued report card.

“We made progress, but I’m not happy that we didn’t make enough progress to move out of academic watch,” said Superintendent Connie Hathorn. “But we did make progress, and that’s a good sign. The teachers and administrators are focused now, and they know what direction we’re going in. I’m proud of what they’re doing.”

The city district made some improvement at the individual building level, but dropped from meeting two out of 26 state indicators last year to meeting one this year.

Districts and schools earn credit for performance indicators by meeting or exceeding designated thresholds in several areas including achievement in reading and mathematics on the third- through eighth-grade achievement tests; meeting or exceeding the 90 percent graduation rate and the 93 percent attendance rate.

“We met [the indicator] in writing last year, and we didn’t meet it this year,” Hathorn said.

The latest data includes measures that previously hadn’t been released. The performance index recognizes the achievement of every student, rather than just those who score proficient or higher.

The value added measure, which schools and districts either meet, fall below or exceed, considers whether students have met a year of expected growth.

Statewide, schools demonstrated improvements in 14 of 26 indicators and met the state’s performance goal on 21 out of the 26 indicators, according to ODE. There were especially strong gains in eighth-grade math and science. The number of districts and schools exceeding expected value added growth also increased.

“We congratulate Ohio’s students, families and educators for making continued, solid academic progress,” said acting Superintendent of Public Instruction Michael L. Sawyers. “But we will need to set the bar higher to ensure that all of our students are prepared for a future that will demand higher skills. Ohio’s minimal competency system must continue to reform for Ohio’s students to be competitive with their peers.”

Boardman, Campbell, Canfield, Jackson Milton, Lowellville, Springfield and Western Reserve in Mahoning County earned the “excellent” rating.

Campbell’s report card data remains under review by ODE. The district is one of nine districts across Ohio where Auditor of State Dave Yost found that students were withdrawn improperly to improve the scores reported to the state. The report card release, typically done in August, was delayed and then done in segments because of Yost’s statewide attendance audit.

In Trumbull County, Champion, Girard, Howland, Hubbard, LaBrae, iberty, Lordstown, Maplewood, Mathews, McDonald and Newton Falls scored “excellent.” In Columbiana County, Columbiana, Leetonia, Lisbon, Southern Local, United and Wellsville were rated “excellent.”

Eleven school districts were designated “effective.” They are Sebring, South Range and Struthers in Mahoning; Bristol, Brookfield, Niles and Southington in Trumbull; and Beaver, Crestview, East Liverpool and Salem in Columbiana.

Two districts, Warren and East Palestine, received the “continuous improvement” rating.

The 2011-12 report cards are the last in the current format. Next year’s reports will change to a letter grading system of A through F and will include standards that measure whether students graduate ready for college and careers.

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