by Ellin Walsh

Reporter

Cuyahoga Falls -- Describing the results as "a great step toward being recognized as an excellent district," Superintendent Dr. Edwin S. Holland applauded the performance of 10th-graders on the Ohio Graduation Test.

The district received the official OGT results for Falls High on May 24. The OGT has replaced the Ohio Ninth-Grade Proficiency Tests, starting with the graduating class of 2007.

"We continue to strive for excellence and the news is good," according to Walter C. Davis, assistant superintendent /Teaching and Learning.

Davis reported the percentage of students at or above the proficient level as follows: Reading, 94 percent; mathematics, 87 percent; writing, 96 percent; science, 79 percent; and social studies, 86 percent.

The state requires "at least 75 percent in each area," Davis said, adding, "We did that!"

The local report card, which is issued by the state, measures the extent to which the district meets certain standards. The local report card reflects the percentage of students deemed proficient by the Ohio Board of Education, with a state requirement of 75 percent to be proficient. According to Ohio law, each school district receives a performance accountability rating based on a series of minimum performance goals for public education.

Students take the Ohio Graduation Test for the first time in the spring of their sophomore year.

If a student does not pass all sections of the test on their first try they can retake the sections during their junior and senior years.

Ohio Graduation Tests are taken each fall and spring, with an optional summer test available within some school districts.

Background

The district has enjoyed an "effective rating" on the state report card and is striving to achieve the higher "excellent" designation. According to Ohio law, each school district receives a performance accountability rating based on a series of minimum performance goals for public education.

A district must meet certain Adequate Yearly Progress goals for 10 student subgroups in reading and mathematics to receive an effective or excellent rating. Cuyahoga Falls schools met AYP in 2004-05, but missed it in 2003-04 and 2005-06. The district is in year two of "district improvement" status and Davis says it must meet AYP two years in a row to be removed from that designation. If the district fails to meet the Adequate Yearly Progress benchmark this year, according to the assistant superintendent, negative consequences in the law kick in.

"We can work very hard at this end to get that [excellent] rating," Davis has said, "but not meeting AYP repeatedly will cause us to lose the rating, a situation that several area districts have dealt with, including Stow this past year."

The Stow-Munroe Falls School District received a continuous improvement rating for the 2005-06 school year, despite meeting 24 of the report card's 25 performance indicators. The year before that, the district received an effective rating when it met 20 of the 23 indicators.

Consequences

Schools receiving Title I funds that do not meet AYP requirements for two consecutive years are identified as "in need of improvement," Davis says and, at that point, are required to offer parents the option of sending their children to another public school within the district and to develop or revise an existing school improvement plan which must be approved by the state.

If the school continues in "in need of improvement" status the following year it will be required to take corrective action such as removing relevant staff, implementing new curriculum, decreasing management authority, appointing outside experts to advise the school, extending the length of the school day or year or restructuring the school's internal organization. Only schools receiving Title I funds are subject to these sanctions.

E-mail: ewalsh@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-686-3908