Austintown Schools Superintendent Vincent Colaluca said he's concerned that parents, students and community members will be confused when they look at the 2012-13 Ohio School Report Cards.
Last year, Austintown earned an Excellent with Distinction designation. However, the current report card issued under the state's new grading system indicates "less than favorable results," Colaluca said.
"The main thing for parents to know is that we haven't changed our teaching. Instructionally, we're doing the same thing we've been doing all along. Nothing has changed except for the way the state processed the information. Our test scores are the same,'' he said. ''It's very frustrating.''
Using its new format, the Ohio Department of Education released the school report cards on Thursday. ODE officials discussed the revisions to the state's grading system of schools during a media call earlier in the day.
Because of technical difficulties with the ODE website, which state officials attributed to heavy traffic to the site, a lot of the report card information was not accessible much of the day. The Tribune Chronicle compiled grades with data provided by the ODE.
Ten school districts from Mahoning and Trumbull counties met all 24 state standards. Among them were Girard, Hubbard, Boardman, Canfield, Champion, Lakeview, Lordstown and Maplewood.
Two districts, Warren and Youngstown, were among the 12 worst out of the 610 school districts statewide. Warren met four of the 24 standards and Youngstown met none, one of only five school districts in the state to fail to meet any state standard.
Previous report cards assessed schools and districts, mostly on achievement test results and rated them using descriptors such as "Excellent" or "Academic Watch." However, ODE officials said those terms were unclear.
The state switched to an A to F letter-grade system which grades up to nine performance areas.
"It was time for a clearer way of rating school performance that will help schools and families see what we still have to do to give our students the education they deserve," state Superintendent Dr. Richard A. Ross said.
Achievement tests will still be a major part of school and district grades, but the new report card will view them in a different way, an ODE representative said. Also, the new report card will use expanded measurements to determine if students are prepared for success beyond high school.
The new report card is being phased in over several years, starting this year.
Beginning in August 2015, schools and districts will receive grades on measures like the four-year graduation rate. The grades for measures will be combined into six broad categories. The component grades will be combined into an overall grade for the school or district.
Ross said no school district earned nine A's or nine F's this year. State officials cautioned that many districts accustomed to ranking well experience different during the transition.
Warren City Schools' results show that the district received six F's, two D's and one A. Last year, the district made the climb to Continuous Improvement after being on Academic Watch for several years.
"This was a much better day last year for Warren City Schools," said Melissa Watson, teaching and learning director at Warren. "We're not going to try to make any excuses. There is no excuse. This is unacceptable.
''The only thing we can do is move forward. It has to start right now, today, right here. It's time to regroup and do what needs to be done," Watson said.
Liberty Superintendent Stan Watson said the district is very pleased it that it appears it received an A in the value added category, which means the district is making progress from the last school year. But the district must do better in other categories, such as Annual Measurable Objectives, he said.
"We were at a disadvantage because we did not know what they wanted," Watson said. "There were areas in which we believed we were supposed to go, but what was expected was different," he said. " That's no excuse. We have to do better and we will."
Howland Superintendent John Sheets said districts are being graded in more categories, which will allow the district to identify more areas in which it can be better.
"Howland fared pretty well based on the preliminary information we received," Sheets said.
Brookfield Superintendent Tim Saxton spoke with his board on Wednesday about the report card results.
"We were not thrilled with the result," he said. "We took hits in some areas and did well in others."
Hubbard Superintendent Richard Buchenic said he plans to meet with his administrators, review the district's scores and come up with a strategy to move students forward. Hubbard was ranked Excellent last year.
"The state continues to adjust how schools are evaluated so we have to continue to constantly be on top on what they bring to us," he said. "It seems as if when we understand and get the hang of one system they give us a new one.
''But we will make those adjustments that are needed,'' he said