Staff and wire reports

COLUMBUS - Area school districts fared well as the final two elements of the 2011-12 state report cards from the Ohio Department of Education were released on Wednesday. The additional data for Ohio's 614 traditional public school districts had been delayed since August because of a statewide attendance tampering investigation.
Newly released information was the overall performance index for each district and building, and the "value-added" measure that rates students' annual academic growth. The assessments give parents and other members of the public a snapshot of each school's year-over-year performance and how it compares with state education standards.

Ohio's performance index scale are designated academic emergency, academic watch, continuous improvement, effective, excellent, and excellent with distinction.

Van Wert City Schools earned an Effective rating, just missing the all-important 100 mark on the performance index with 99.8. VWCS did met the value-added measure.

Both Crestview Local Schools and Lincolnview Local Schools were rated Excellent and each met the value-added measure. Lincolnview's performance index was 100.8 while Crestview's was 102.8.

In the area, Delphos City Schools and Paulding Exempted Village Schools had the top grades, earning Excellent with Distinction ratings. Delphos City Schools had a performance index of 101.2 and performed above the value-added measure. Paulding had a performance index of 98.4 and also exceeded the value-added measure.

Spencerville received an Excellent designation with a 99.9 index score and meeting the value-added measure. Both Wayne Trace Local Schools and Parkway Local Schools earned Effective ratings. Wayne Trace scored 99.8 and met the value-added measure. Parkway scored 102.8, but fell below the value-added measure.

Individual schools also received their ratings as well. Both Washington and Franklin elementary schools earned Excellent designations in their final year of operation. Jefferson Elementary was designated Excellent with Distinction and S.F. Goedde School was classified as Continuous Improvement. Both Van Wert Middle School and Van Wert High School earned Excellent designations.

All three schools at Crestview - elementary, middle and high school - earned Excellent ratings, as did Lincolnview Elementary. Lincolnview Jr./Sr. High School was ranked Effective.

Overall, Ohio's latest ratings of public school performance show that schools made strong academic gains in 8th-grade math and science, but the assessments also found that the performance of minorities and economically disadvantaged students remained low in the state.

"This is a time of unprecedented change for Ohio's public education system," Acting State Superintendent Michael Sawyers said in Wednesday's report. "We have made great progress but there is more to do to make sure that all of our children will enjoy the bright futures we want for them."

Amid an investigation into school attendance tampering, the state Board of Education opted last year to delay release of the assessments, known as state report cards. Board members had said they were concerned that widespread inaccuracies may exist in attendance data that could have compromised the rankings.

Ohio Auditor Dave Yost launched the probe after unusual practices were uncovered around the state.

Yost's review found that nine districts removed poor-performing students from their rolls in attempts to improve performance ratings that can impact federal funding and employee bonuses.

Rankings for those nine districts with apparent irregularities were flagged in Wednesday's report cards as the department re-examines their attendance data. Those districts and all their schools have a watermark added to their reports, indicating that the results are subject to change pending further investigation.

The 2011-12 report cards show two districts on academic emergency. Eleven districts are on academic watch, five more than in the previous school year.

Ohio saw a jump in the number of schools designated "excellent with distinction" - 468 schools, compared with 316 in the 2010-11 school year.

The state says schools improved in 14 of 26 indicators and met the state's performance goal on 21 out of the 26 indicators.

A new rating system will be phased in beginning next school year. Schools will be assessed on a traditional A-through-F scale. And the report cards will be based on standards aimed at graduating students who are ready for college and careers.