When the state report cards for the 2011-12 school year finally were released Wednesday, Portage County school district results were unchanged.
Results had been delayed because of an investigation by the Auditor of State into attendance data scrubbing by some districts elsewhere in the state.
State officials said there were especially strong gains in eighth-grade math and science around Ohio. But, officials said, there is still much room to improve.
The big change from October is that parents and other interested parties will now be able to look at the full district report cards on the Ohio Department of Education website, www.reportcard.ohio.gov to read the full State Report Card, along with district and building report cards.
The results showed four districts as Excellent with Distinction (Aurora, Field, James A. Garfield and Kent); five rated Excellent (Crestwood, Rootstown, Streetsboro, Mogadore and Stow-Munroe Falls); and three as Effective (Ravenna, Waterloo and Windham).
Superintendent Charles Klamer of James A. Garfield schools in Garrettsville said he didn't expect any changes.
"There's always room to improve. I just feel I'm blessed as a superintendent to work with the hardworking teachers, administrators, caring board members and kids that take it seriously, and all the support we get from parents and community," Klamer said.
Although little changed from the data released in October, Lori Slattery, director of instructional programs for Kent City Schools, said district officials were pleased with one new piece of information from the report cards released Wednesday. The reports now rank every school districts in the state in the "value added growth" category, and Kent schools finished highest in the county and 55th overall out of 832 districts.
Slattery said the category does not just measure whether students reached academic benchmarks set by the state, but whether students are making progress toward those benchmarks.
"You take where the student began and where they ended up and (evaluate) growth," Slattery said.
Waterloo schools in Atwater and Randolph dropped last year to Effective from an Excellent rating the previous year.
"Obviously our district went down from the year before. We had some areas where we made really good progress and we're happy about," said Dr. Andrew Hill, superintendent of Waterloo schools. He said the districts financial cuts contributed to the fall, due to cuts in teaching and support staff and larger class sizes.
"Ultimately it's not surprising to see some of the reductions. It doesn't sit well. We have a group of professionals striving to do what's best for the kids," he said.
Crestwood Superintendent Joseph Iacano, said he wasn't surprised by the lack of change.
"We were pretty confident that the results we way in October were accurate.
Iacano said he was very proud of the work of teachers, students and administrators. He noted it was Crestwood's second year in a row meeting all 26 standards in the report card.
"There's only one or two districts in the county that can say that," Iacano said.
Southeast Superintendent Tom Harrison said although his district remained continuos improvement, there were bright spots in the report.
"One positive is our high school was (rated) excellent for the second straight year and the middle school was excellent for the first time," Harrison said.
In the Ravenna School District, Superintendent Dennis Honkala was not surprised by the district's effective rating. The report card showed the district meeting 14 out of 26 state indicators.
"We've had our charge since the preliminary results were released in August," he said. "We've been working really hard over the last six months."
He said the district is "optimistic" about better results next year.
"It's very important to us," he said.
Ohio's current performance scale ranges from academic emergency to excellent with distinction. A new scale using traditional letter grades A through F will go into effect next school year.
The release of the full report card information was held up last year due to an investigation by the Auditor of State into attendance number "scrubbing" by nine districts statewide. Rankings for about 80 districts will be flagged as the education department re-examines their attendance numbers.
Thomas Gallick and Diane Smith contributed to this report. Contact this reporter at 330-298-1125 or firstname.lastname@example.org