Results from the recently released 2014-15 Ohio Department of Education Ohio School Report Cards show a wide range of scores among Highland County’s five public schools, but the Fairfield Local Schools are at the top of nearly all of the major categories.
For Indicators Met, which shows how many students have a minimum, or proficient, level of knowledge based on a series of up to 35 state tests, Fairfield and Lynchburg-Clay received A’s, while Bright Local, Greenfield and Hillsboro all received F’s.
But Hillsboro Superintendent Jim Smith said he believes a more accurate indication of how a school district is performing is reflected by the Performance Index, which measures the achievement of every student, not just whether or not they reached the proficient level.
In that category, Fairfield received a B, Hillsboro and Lynchburg-Clay C’s, and Bright Local and Greenfield D’s.
“As is typical of all our county schools, our top kids are brilliant and that’s why we offer all the AP (advanced placement) classes we offer and why we have students that perform so well on the ACT,” said Smith. “But we also have some poverty. A lot of what we’re looking at is trying to do the best we can with kids who are really struggling. We’re behind some of the schools and we have a lot of work to do.”
One area Bright Local Superintendent Ted Downing likes to focus on are the graduation rates.
On the 4-Year Graduation Rate, which includes as graduates only students who earn diplomas within four years of entering the ninth grade for the first time, Bright Local and Fairfield scored A’s, Lynchburg-Clay scored a B, and Greenfield and Hillsboro scored D’s.
On the 5-year Graduation Rate, which includes students who graduate within five years of entering ninth grade for the first time, Bright Local scored an A, and Fairfield, Greenfield, Hillsboro and Lynchburg-Clay all scored C’s.
“The first thing is, are we graduating our kids, and you see we are. That’s the bottom line,” Downing said. “Some of our scores are very good, and some are very bad. … That’s why we know we have a lot of work to do and that’s why we’re constantly working and looking at ways to do that.”
In K-3 literacy, which measures how well districts and schools are helping young students who are reading below grade level, Fairfield scored a B, Bright Local, Hillsboro and Lynchburg-Clay C’s, and Greenfield a D.
“The frustrating part is the state makes it like a moving target,” Greenfield Superintendent Joe Wills said. “Each year they add tests and raise the bar. We’re trying to focus on areas where we see we need to improve with the idea that if we focus on that, we’ll see improvement.”
On Overall Value Added, an analysis that helps educators measure the impact schools and teachers have on students’ academic progress rates from year to year, Fairfield received a B, Bright Local a D, and Greenfield, Hillsboro and Lynchburg-Clay F’s.
On Gifted Value Added, which reflects the level of services provided to, and the performance of, students identified as gifted, Fairfield and Lynchburg-Clay received C’s, Greenfield received a D, Hillsboro received an F, and Bright Local was not rated.
On Lowest 20 Percent Value Added, Bright Local and Fairfield scored C’s, Lynchburg-Clay scored D, and Greenfield and Hillsboro scored F’s.
On Students With Disabilities Value Added, Fairfield scored C, and the other four districts all scored F’s.
On the AMO Grade, which measures the academic performance of specific groups of students, such as racial and demographic groups, Fairfield received a B, Lynchburg-Clay received a C, and Bright Local, Greenfield and Hillsboro received F’s.
Fairfield Superintendent Bill Garrett said there are several reasons why his district’s scores are at or near the top in most categories. He said those include being in a small school district, great teachers that work well with the administration, and a community that is supportive of its schools.
“We try to keep things simple. We try to figure out what the kids don’t know and teach them those things. The thing we really look at is Value Added. That shows if kids are moving along,” Garrett said.
He said Fairfield also keeps an eye on K-3 Literacy to make sure kids at those grade levels are on track.
“I think all the area schools, and I work closely with all of them, really work hard to give their kids the best education they can,” Garrett said. “And that’s what we’re really here for.”
Lynchburg-Clay Superintendent Brett Justice could not be reached for this story.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.