LORAIN - Lorain Schools wants out of the 4-F club.
Superintendent Tom Tucker on Tuesday detailed to Board of Education members how to improve failing scores on the latest annual state report card. The report released Thursday by the Ohio Department of Education included Fs in four of nine categories for the 2012-13 school year.
The letter grades are a switch from past report cards that used ratings like "academic watch," "continuous improvement," "excellent" and "excellent with distinction." Districts will receive overall letter grades in 2015.
The district, taken over by the state in April after four years of low test scores, met three of 24 performance indicators on the card compared with one in 2011-12. Despite the failing marks, Tucker said Lorain ascended about 10 spots among Ohio school districts compared with having the second-worst rating last year.
"It's not good enough, but we are headed in the right direction, we hope," said Tucker who took over in August 2012. "We can't let up. We've got a ways to go."
Tucker said it was "really big" that the highest-performing and 20 percent lowest-performing fourth through eighth-graders showed a year's worth of progress in reading and mathematics and received As. The overall grade for fourth- through eighth-graders in reading and math was a C.
"That's progress. That'll show you the future," Tucker said. "Those things need to continue and get better."
Students with mental and physical disabilities, whose performance can decrease overall grades, showed a year's progress and received a C. However, the high school graduation rate of about 69 percent was well below the 90 percent state requirement.
Tucker attributed the low rate to changes in the way the state calculates rates. He said Lorain needs to improve tracking students who leave the district. Unaccounted students are considered dropouts, as are seniors who need summer school to graduate. Summer school graduates will be counted in the future, which Tucker said will increase rates.
About 85 percent of Lorain students live in poverty and 87 percent of students entering kindergarten don't meet minimum state standards. Nonetheless, board President Tim Williams said Lorain must have higher overall expectations than meeting minimum standards.
"If you're going to be competitive in this economic world, just passing your proficiencies isn't going to get you there," he said.
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