District report cards incomplete


SUNBURY — The Big Walnut Local School District received a “NR” on the latest Ohio School Report Card, issued last week. However, so did every other school district in the state.

While the Ohio Department of Education did compile performance data in six components for all schools, it gave those buildings and their districts an overall grade of NR, which stands for Not Rated.

There are NRs across the board in the components of Achievement, Progress, Gap Closing, Graduation Rate, Improving at-risk K-3 Readers and Prepared for Success.

“The 2020-2021 report card will not have grades or ratings per Ohio law,” the state’s Department of Education said on Big Walnut’s District Overview page. The global impact of the coronavirus pandemic has impacted all of the schools in the state.

“The state’s education community experienced unprecedented disruptions during the 2020-2021 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the ODE said. “The report cards look different than in prior years. Even though a lot of data is available, it would not be fair to rate schools based on the data. Therefore, there are no ratings for the second year in a row.”

For the district at a glance, Big Walnut has an enrollment of 3,831 students in eight schools. The students have a 95.7% attendance rate and a 95% graduation rate over four years (and 97.4% over five years). The teachers have an attendance rate of 94%, average 13 years of experience, and earn an average salary of $69,345.

For Financial Data, Big Walnut spent 67.7% of its funds on classroom instruction, ranking 91st out of 110 in comparison to other districts of similar size, among the lowest in the state for districts of an enrollment between 2,500 and 4,999.

The operating spending per pupil in the district is $10,292, which is lower than the state average of $10,334. The district received $48,364,161 in funding, of which 69.8% (or $33.7 million) was locally sourced; 21.4% ($10.3 million) was funded by the state; 4.6% ($2.2 million) was federally funded; and 4.2% ($2 million) funding from other sources.

The report card said the district has “implemented a positive behavior intervention and support framework in compliance with (the) Ohio Revised Code. In addition, Big Walnut has achieved moderate success in “compliance with the federal requirement for implementing a local wellness policy.”

As in years past, there is a Performance Index in the Achievement component, which measures how well students performed on test results. Here, Big Walnut earned 89.7 points out of a possible 120, for a 74.7% PI. A comparable district in Delaware County, Buckeye Valley Local, had an 84.1 PI, with $11,279 spent per pupil.

“Report Cards are designed to give parents, communities, educators and policymakers information about the performance of districts and schools — to celebrate achievement and success and identify areas for improvement,” the ODE said. “The information provides clear and easily available reporting on student performance, drives local conversations on school improvement… The goal is to ensure all students receive an excellent education that can lead to success in life, careers and future learning.”

Big Walnut staff have said they consider the report cards as a tool, but also consider their own data to measure the education they give their students. The district’s Academic Achievement department has developed “Our Eagle Profile” to teach all its students the skills needed to be an adaptable learner, collaborator, communicator, problem solver, and responsible citizen if they enlist in the military, enroll in higher education, or become employed in the workforce.

The district also uses a Quality Profile.

“Report cards are only one part of the story about what is happening in schools and districts,” the ODE said. “To get a more complete picture, we encourage you to visit schools, talk to educators, parents and students, and review the school’s or district’s web page. A lot of great things are happening every day in Ohio’s schools!”

The ODE’s 2021 Report Card Guide reveals further reforms ahead due to House Bill 82, signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine. Instead of an A-F grade scale, a 1-5 star scale will go into effect with the 2021-2022 school year. An overall rating will go into effect with the 2022-2023 school year, as will New Student Opportunity Profiles. Finally, a readiness component will go into effect with the 2024-2025 school year.

In the 2021-2022 school year, the six components change slightly to: Gap Closing, Achievement, Progress, Graduation, Early Literacy, and College, Career, Workforce and Military Readiness.

“The Achievement component will be based solely on the Performance Index,” the guide said. “The previously-graded Indicators Met measure now will be reported for informational purposes only.”

Pictured is a rendering of the Academic Commons area inside the new Big Walnut High School in Sunbury. According to the district, the new school is scheduled to open after winter break.
https://www.delgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/40/2021/10/web1_BW-academic-commons.jpgPictured is a rendering of the Academic Commons area inside the new Big Walnut High School in Sunbury. According to the district, the new school is scheduled to open after winter break. Courtesy photo | BWLS

By Gary Budzak

[email protected]

Editor’s note: The Gazette will highlight the results of the other districts in the county in upcoming articles. Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.

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