MOUNT VERNON — The Ohio Department of Education has released preliminary results from the spring round of the Ohio Achievement Tests. In general, local students fared well, meeting or surpassing the state averages in reading, math and science. There seems to have been problems statewide with the fifth- and eighth-grade social studies tests, as the state average scores are 61 percent for fifth-graders and 51 percent for eighth-graders.
Although the test scores are a single one-point-in-time snapshot of students’ academic progress, they, along with the Ohio Graduation Tests, are major factors in how well school districts fare on the state district and school building report cards. The performance index on the report cards is based on the number of students scoring proficient or above on the OAT and OGT.
Highland Superintendent Tim Hilborn and North Fork Superintendent Scott Hartley said individual schools also use the test results to evaluate subject matter and instructional techniques for each grade level; teachers and administrators work over the summer to review test data and develop teaching strategies for the upcoming school year.
The Fredericktown school community is celebrating this year’s successes.
“We are definitely seeing improvements over time,” said Superintendent Dan Humphrey. “Fredericktown staff and students are not satisfied to simply ‘pass’ their tests but they are striving to score in the accelerated and advanced levels. ... The students and staff are living the district’s mission statement ‘Every day, everyone working together to learn and improve.’”
“Our steady progress,” said middle school principal Emily Funston, “shows all the hard work on the part of students and teachers.”
East Knox educators were pleased with the overall OAT results, although there were a couple worrisome areas.
“We clearly have some work to do in specific areas,” said Superintendent John Marschhausen. “Eighth-grade math has always been an area of concern and we have made some changes in staff to address several issues. As always, we continue to work to get better. There is never a single answer and we will never be ‘good enough.’ We must always work to improve and provide better learning experiences for our kids.”
Mount Vernon students performed at or above the state average on nearly all of the achievement tests, and Superintendent Steve Short applauds the effort of the students and teachers.
“It’s a cumulative joint effort,” he said. “It’s not a one-year effort; it’s an effort that goes across the board. With a lot of hard work, we are getting results in a lot of different places. It’s a continuing goal of ours to meet the needs of all students and we continue to look at different ways to meet those needs.”
Centerburg students also did well.
“We did pretty well on the OATs, although scores were down a little bit in eighth grade, but it’s not a big drop,” said Middle School Principal Mike Hebenthal. “We just have to keep working on that. As a whole, I’m happy. The staff and students did great. And we’re going to continue to try to get better.”
Parents should receive an individualized test report for each of their school-age children. The report describes the expected performance levels for each test and details the child’s strengths and weaknesses in each subject area. A Family Report Interpretive Guide, accessed through the Ohio Department of Education Web site, is available to help parents and families understand their students’ results on the OAT.
Some students may have fewer OATs to take next year. The recently passed state budget bill prohibits the administration of the elementary writing and social studies achievement assessments during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years unless the Ohio Department of Education has sufficient funds to pay the costs of furnishing and scoring the assessments.
Requests for comments from Danville Local Schools Superintendent Dan Harper were not returned.