The Ohio Department of Education was poised to release annual report cards sometime this week to districts statewide, but the Orange Board of Education review preliminary district results at a retreat last Friday.

Overall, BOE members were pleased.

“We have a lot to celebrate,” said Director of 21st Century Curriculum Karen Moore as she led the board and several administrators who were at the retreat through discussing the results.

While the board members and staff present were satisfied with the preliminary rating, they took some time to notice components of their rating that were areas of growth as well as areas of lacking. Ms. Moore noted that all of the district’s report card information will be public on Sept. 19 at the latest, and the board will discuss the information in depth at their Sept. 23 meeting.

The board and staff were most impressed with the perfect score they received on Gap Closing, which is the component that shows how well they have met performance expectations for vulnerable populations of students in English language arts, math and graduation.

Board President Beth Wilson-Fish noticed that all indicators for testing were met at Moreland Hills Elementary School, but each school building at the district ended up with different indicator results. Several of the staff present pointed out that math classes are still an area that needs work in the Orange district. Board member Melanie Weltman said that algebra especially continues to be an area that needs improvement, though geometry scores have gone up since the last report card.

Other areas of concern found in review of the results were a chronic absentee percentage of 70 percent and a graduation rate of less than 100 percent. Board member Rebecca Boyle wondered if these were mistakes, and Ms. Weltman also voiced concern about the accuracy of the report.

Ms. Moore explained that after looking into the data behind the 70 percent chronic absentee result, she found that students had been mistakenly marked as absent on some field trips and college visits. The district will need to clean up their system for absences, she said.

“It’s understandable that there would be some errors, but we’re working to fix those,” Ms. Moore said. She added that the district will be able to appeal errors in reporting prior to the report card’s release.

The district will continue to set up systems to catch these errors, and Ms. Moore reiterated that the chronic absentee benchmark continues to be set higher each year. Director of Student Support Services Dr. Kershini Naidu pointed out that House Bill 410, which requires schools to have policies for interventions that support students who are chronically absent, wasn’t created with a component that could allow absences for vacation and college visits to be marked differently, since they can still be valuable experiences for students.

As for the error with the district’s graduation rate, Ms. Moore said that she and Orange High School Principal Paul Lucas found students who had come into the district but had been marked for the wrong graduation year. Mr. Lucas said that 100 percent of students graduated last year but the report card does not reflect that simply because of oversight at the district.

Despite areas of concern, several of the members of administration present spoke positively of the results.

“Our achievement is going in the right direction,” Superintendent Lynn Campbell said. “We’re trending in the right direction.”

Ms. Moore said, in response to continued low math scores, the district will be putting together a task force to help teachers analyze what students in their classroom are struggling with and how to improve. The district will also be evaluating the effectiveness of their current math textbook this year.

“Math is something I see a lot of school districts struggle with,” Ms. Wilson-Fish said, adding that though the district has seen progress in the subject, they will continue to work on it.

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