April 24, 2014

Elyria
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2010-11 Area School Report Cards: Superintendents pleased with performances; all districts get ‘C’ or better

For more on 2010-11 Area School Report Cards: Elyria gets a ‘B’ while Westwood scores its first ‘excellent’ rating

Students in Lorain County are scoring better on state achievement tests and it is being reflected in the report card districts receive annually from the state.

The Ohio Department of Education released the most recent report cards today, which looks at the 2010-11 school year. All of Lorain County’s 14 public school districts have grades of C or better on a scale that runs from excellent with distinction, which equates to an A-plus, to academic emergency, essentially an F.

Lorain Schools, which has chronically performed below other districts in the county, has moved up to continuous improvement this year. The district of roughly 7,600 students met the state standard for 5 out of 26 indicators, a sizable improvement from last year when it met just one and was rated in academic watch.

Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson has not returned repeated phone calls to discuss the data, but has previously said areas of improvement were across the board. In 18 areas, Atkinson has said modest improvements can be seen even though the overall score falls below the state standard for proficiency.

Atkinson is set to leave Lorain Schools in the coming weeks. She is expected to take over the DeKalb County Schools in Georgia, where a formal vote by the board to hire her could come as soon as Monday.

But there’s no doubt the data — which was released to the media early for story preparation — has made many local superintendents happy.

For the first time since 2006, Elyria will be rated as effective — a B grade for a district that has lingered in continuous improvement for several years.

“I’m actually very excited to be returning to the designation of effective,” Superintendent Paul Rigda said. “We all worked very hard to get back there together, from our students to staff to teachers to central office administrators and parents. This is truly a team win.”

Rigda said Elyria has made steady improvement over the years to reach effective.

“But we are not stopping there,” he said. “We are going to get stronger and stronger. We got 15 out of 26 indicators and three of the ones we didn’t make we were less than 2 percentage points away. We are very close.”

For years, the Sheffield-Sheffield Lake Schools has been very close to excellent and this year Superintendent Will Folger said it is close no more. For the first time, the district has earned the A grade.

“It’s finally paying off,” he said of the steady work the district has done to improve. “I have to give this to our students and staff. Obviously, their hard work is paying off.”

Folger credited improvement to a plan that includes curriculum changes district wide, more services for at-risk students and all day, everyday kindergarten. The result is

William Barr Elementary, Forestlawn Elementary and Sheffield Middle School all are rated as excellent schools.

“But we have two schools that are effective, so there is more improvement that is needed right there,” he said. “Today, you are going to see a bunch of happy campers in our buildings, but we still have a ways to go.”

Amherst Schools has an A or excellent rating for the 10th straight year, but even with its leaders’ jubilation over the continued success, Superintendent Steve Sayers said there is room for improvement.

“Although our performance index has improved to 102.8, we still want to see further improvement,” he said. “Value-added is something that will be a focus for us this year. Our goal is to further individualize and differentiate instruction so all students achieve at least a year’s growth.”

Beyond just the report card rating, Sayers said the district has many other goals that can’t be measured with a test.

“We also want to stay focused on those items that are components of a high quality education that are not measured on the state report card,” he said. “For example, things like character development, what it means to be a good citizen, the importance of community service and developing good communication skills.”

Amherst is not alone as a consistently high-performing district. Once again, Avon Lake Schools and Avon Schools are among the top performing in the districts, earning the ranks of excellent with distinction and excellent, respectively. Columbia Schools and North Ridgeville Schools also are rated excellent with distinction.

Firelands Schools moved up from effective to excellent this year.

And Clearview Schools, Keystone Schools, Midview Schools, Oberlin Schools and Wellington Schools all earned effective ratings.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.