Like other local administrators, Lakeview Schools Superintendent Robert Wilson said that his district will work to hit the state's academic target regardless of where it stands.
Wilson, whose school district earned an Excellent with Distinction rating on its 2011-12 Ohio State Report Card, said he's not overly concerned about changes the state is proposing to make to its academic evaluation system - most notably moving from the current rating system of Excellent with Distinction through Academic Emergency to a letter-grade system.
"We work hard here and we'll continue to work no matter what the state puts in front of us," said Wilson. "It's always about working hard, making improvements where you need to and moving forward. That won't change."
As school administrators across the state were reviewing preliminary report card data released last week, state officials continued reviewing proposed changes to the grading system.
In May, the U.S. Department of Education approved Ohio's application for relief from federal education regulations. Meaning, Ohio would no longer be subject to many elements of the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act, including the Adequate Yearly Progress requirement on the state report cards issued by the Ohio Department of Education.
Gov. John Kasich has said the changes are needed to raise academic standards and implement a tougher grading system to better prepare students for college and the work force.
Current state report card rankings and their proposed letter grade equivalent
Excellent with distinction = A+
Excellent = A
Effective = B
Continuous Improvement = C
Academic Watch = D
Academic Emergency = F
Source: Ohio Department of Education
John Charlton, Ohio Department of Education spokesman, said that although the new grading system is to take effect next year, state officials cannot speculate as to how it will operate because it is still being developed. He said the waiver was approved conditionally and the state will have to re-submit any changes made for additional approval.
Local educators said they're not sure how the revised system would affect their districts. However, they realize the changes could mean a drop in at least one letter grade to many districts.
"I think some schools will be trying to hold on to where they are, especially the ones who have had Excellent or Excellent with Distinction ratings," said Melissa Watson, teaching and learning director at Warren City Schools. "In Warren, although we were able to move up this year to Continuous Improvement, we know we have work to do. But I think a lot of people are confused about the new system and where their schools will fall in that system. And because it's intended to be stricter, some schools could come away very disappointed."
Watson agreed that it would be nice to know where the target is.
State education officials have explained that for some of the schools that would drop from an A to a B under the new system, it's because it could be more difficult, for example, to get an A in the performance index category, which measures how well students do on state tests rather than how many of them pass.
"It's not easy to sort through it by any means," said Austintown Superintendent Vincent Colaluca.
Roger Samuelson, a Champion School Board of Education members, said he's concerned that the report card changes could be too close to the state's new common core standards expected to hit Ohio schools during the 201415 school year.
"It's just a lot to take in," Samuelson said. "It's just hard to discuss (the new grading system) it or plan for it because no one knows yet what it will mean, how it will affect us. It's just a wait-and-see situation. ... There's a lot going on right now."
The state report cards are typically released in August each year. The 2011-12 State Report Card data released last week remains preliminary pending the resolution of an investigation by State Auditor David Yost into alleged irregularities in the reporting of student attendance. Officials have said they expect to release final data early next year.