Are Ohio's schools making the grade?
It may be too early to tell, according to the state's tougher, transformed standards.
The Ohio Department of Education released its first revamped grade cards for the state's school districts Thursday, replacing the "excellent with distinction" through "academic emergency" classification with a traditional A through F grading scale.
Look at all the data by clicking HERE or in the embedded content below
The new report cards list letter grades in nine separate areas, including how many overall state standards students met in the previous year.
They do not, however, include an overall letter grade. Those will appear for the first time in August 2015, state officials said. Some of the individually graded areas will be weighted as more important than others to determine the overall grade.
Locally, Margaretta and Huron students fared the best on the new grading scale. Margaretta Schools received six As and three Bs for this past school year, while Huron Schools received four As, four Bs and one C.
Sandusky Schools, meanwhile, landed the lowest grades in the region, receiving two Fs, two Ds, four Cs and one A — for the district's gifted student programs — on this past year's report card.
Perkins Schools received three Fs, the most in the area, but balanced out its scores with four Bs, one C and one D.
The new system makes it difficult to compare data to years past, but it should eventually offer a clearer picture of how a school is educating particular groups of students, state officials said. The nine letter grades aim to provide insight into a district's performance on tests, graduation rates, year-to-year improvement and progress in closing achievement gaps between students.
Despite the new data, the region's grades still indicate a typical trend: wealthier, suburban districts continue to fare well in state evaluations, while poorer, urban districts continue to struggle. Over the years, the state's grading systems have generally failed to account for the difficult circumstances facing poorer urban districts, such as poverty issues.
Overall, not one of the more than 600 districts in the state received all As or all Fs.
Eugene Sanders, Sandusky Schools superintendent, said district officials are disappointed by this year's grades, but they're optimistic for the future.
With plans for district-wide improvement and transformation, including the "Next Level" initiative and the Regional Center for Advanced Academic Studies, a new full-time gifted school, Sanders said he's certain the district can aggressively improve its overall scores by next year.
"I find the scores absolutely unacceptable in terms of what we're capable of doing," Sanders said. "While some students are seeing great success in our schools, we need to address students who aren't succeeding in a way that improves scores across the board. We make no excuses."
Even officials at districts faring well, however, said they plan to dissect the complicated new data and identify areas where students can improve.
"Our team really needs to sit down and dig deep into the data and then take that back to our building principals and teachers," Huron Schools superintendent Dennis Muratori said. "We're very proud of the tremendous effort of our students, faculty and staff, but there are always areas where we can improve instruction and programming."
Complete report cards are available at the Ohio Department of Education's website, ode.state.oh.us.
High web traffic caused the department's website to malfunction shortly after the report card data's 11 a.m. Thursday release time, but the results were available about an hour later.