SUNBURY — Teachers often stick a star on book reports or homework assignments for a job well done. A similar thing happened to school districts around the state last week.
Big Walnut Local Schools earned plenty of stars in the latest Ohio report cards rankings. The state graded districts on a one-to-five stars ratings scale, with five stars being the best, in five different categories: achievement, progress, gap closing, graduation rate, and early literacy.
In the achievement area of measurement, Big Walnut received a 4. The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) defined achievement in the following way, “This component represents whether student performance on state tests met established thresholds and how well students performed on tests overall.”
For progress, the district received a 3. The ODE said of progress, “This component looks closely at the growth all students are making based on their past performances.”
In gap closing, Big Walnut earned a 5. “This component measures the reduction in educational gaps for student subgroups,” the ODE said.
Big Walnut also had a 5 in graduation. “This component looks at the four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate and the five-year adjusted cohort graduation rate.”
Finally, the district got a 3 for early literacy. “This component measures reading improvement and proficiency for students in kindergarten through third grade.”
Overall, Big Walnut was issued 20 out of 25 possible stars from the ODE. Here’s how the other districts in Delaware County fared: Olentangy Schools had a perfect score of 25; Buckeye Valley Local Schools a 21; Delaware City Schools a 20.
The district’s individual buildings were also issued stars by the ODE: Big Walnut High School received 4 stars in achievement, progress and gap closing, and 5 stars in graduation (17 out of a possible 20 stars); Big Walnut Middle School received 4 stars in achievement and progress, and 5 stars in gap closing (13 out of a possible 15 stars); Big Walnut Intermediate School received 4 stars in achievement, 2 stars in progress, and 5 stars in gap closing (11 out of a possible 15 stars); Big Walnut Elementary School received 4 stars in achievement and early literacy, and 5 stars in progress and gap closing (18 out of 20 stars); General Rosecrans Elementary School received 4 stars in achievement and gap closing, 3 stars in early literacy, and 5 stars in progress (16 out of 20 stars); Hylen Souders Elementary School received 4 stars in achievement and gap closing, 1 star in progress, and 3 stars in early literacy (12 out of 20 stars); and the new Prairie Run Elementary School received 4 stars in achievement, 3 stars in progress and early literacy, and 5 stars in gap closing (15 out of 20 stars).
In the 2021-22 school year, district enrollment was at 3,997 students, compared to 3,563 in 2017-18. The Performance Index Percent was 86.8%, an improvement from 74.7% the previous year. The four-year graduation rate was 96.4%, and the five-year graduation rate was 96.6%. For more information, visit education.ohio.gov.
While the state’s report cards have changed several times in recent years, the Big Walnut district’s response to those grades/ratings has been consistent — they are a snapshot in time, which will be taken into account, along with its own current assessments.
“At first glance, there are areas of the state report card we are pleased with and other areas in which we know we need to do some work,” said Big Walnut Superintendent Ryan McLane. “Much of that work has already been identified through internal evaluation, so it is not like we were sitting around waiting for the state report card. The past few years have been very difficult for educators and families, so I appreciate all of the work that has been done by them to ensure our kids could be as successful as possible.”
Gary Budzak covers the eastern half of Delaware County. He may be reached at the above email address or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.