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2019 State Report Card Shows Progress

The newly released state report card shows Sycamore Community Schools is making progress in growing all students to reach their full potential.

Overall more than 88% of Sycamore students scored Advanced Plus, Advanced, Accelerated, or Proficient on language arts and math state assessments during the 2018-2019 school year, according to the Ohio Department of Education’s new School Report Card.

Districts and schools were graded on six components: Achievement, Gap Closing, Improving at Risk K-3 Readers, Progress, Graduation Rate, and Prepared for Success. 

“We are proud of the tremendous growth and progress we’re seeing across all grade levels and all levels of learners,” said Frank Forsthoefel, superintendent. “We are extremely pleased to see our performance index has continued to rise, showing increased numbers of students are scoring above proficient levels.”

Our Achievements:

Sycamore Community Schools received an overall “A” grade for Progress, which looks closely at the growth that all students are making based on their past performances. This includes math, English/Language Arts, and science tests in grades 4-8 and some end-of-course exams. The district received A’s for the growth of gifted students, students in the lowest 20% in achievement, and students with disabilities. 

The district also received an “A” for Graduation Rate on the state report card. The Class of 2019 graduation rate was 99% with 84% of graduates attending college this fall. Other achievements from the Class of 2019 that were not included in the state report include:

  • 92% of students scored a three or higher on AP tests
  • 73 National AP Scholars (average score 3.57)
  • 19 National Merit Finalists
  • 20 students achieved a perfect score of 36 on the ACT Exam, the most in school history
  • 33 students achieved a score of 35 on the ACT Exam

Another measure of success not included in the report card is the 2018-2019 Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) which is given to all students in grades 1-8.  All schools received high growth and high achievement marks.  

Overall, the district’s Achievement component scores were consistent or above other similar districts, and well above state averages. Sycamore saw an increase in the number of students scoring Advanced Plus, Advanced, Accelerated, or Proficient on 16 of the 21 state assessments. The district met the proficiency criteria in all but one tested subject area.

Our Challenges:

While Sycamore Schools uses the state report card for accountability, administrators recognize that it does have its flaws. For example, the district received a “B” on Gap Closing, which shows how well schools are meeting the performance expectations for our most vulnerable populations of students in English language arts, math, and graduation rate. The district received 100% of the points possible for all subgroups in English language arts and math proficiency. However, the report card gave Sycamore Schools lower marks on the graduation rate component because of the percentage of students with disabilities who take advantage of special needs programming beyond four years.

“Many of our families and students with disabilities are taking advantage of our phenomenal special education programming until they turn 23 years of age as required by law,” said Forsthoefel. “We are proud to offer opportunities like our Transition Internship Program (TIP), Work Study & Transition Services to help these students reach their full potential beyond what they receive in their four years of high school.”

Even though 99.4% of third-graders passed the Third Grade Reading Guarantee, Sycamore was given a “C” for Improving At-Risk K-3 Readers.

“We clearly know students at young ages develop their literacy skills at varying rates. Our ultimate goal is that they meet the Third Grade Reading Guarantee threshold,” said Karen Naber, assistant superintendent. “The nearly perfect passage rate of this assessment shows our commitment to ensuring all students are developing literacy skills and a love for reading and writing.”

Those two components, Gap Closing and Improving At-Risk K-3 Readers, caused Sycamore Schools overall letter grade to be brought down to a 3.9 or a “B”.

The Larger Picture

The Ohio School Boards Association has raised concerns that state test results that form the backbone of the report card have long been closely related to socioeconomic status and the diversity of the district’s population. 

State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria told the Dayton Daily News that the report card does not tell the whole story. 

“I think it measures important things, but not all the things that are important are measured by the report card,” DeMaria said. “If you really want to understand what’s going on in a school, visit the school, talk to the school’s leadership, talk to students, talk to parents who send their children to those schools, interact with the staff of the school. That will always give you a better-rounded portrayal of what’s happening.”

DeMaria said things like school culture and extra-curricular activities have a definite impact on educational success but are difficult to measure, and are not part of the report card. Many academic courses outside of English, math, and a few science and social studies also are not reflected.

The 2019 Quality Profile released today in conjunction with the state report card, helps characterize the overall educational value of Sycamore Schools beyond standardized testing. Among the achievements highlighted in this year’s Quality Profile, Sycamore was named the #10 Best School District in Ohio by Niche and one of the 2019 Top Workplaces in Greater Cincinnati by