NORTH CANTON  Everyone knows what it feels like to get a report card. From kindergarten through college, anyone who has attended school knows that one day there will be a report card filled with grades for performance. Many parents save report cards from their children over the years while others just want to forget about many of their report cards.

In late September, school districts in Stark County and around the state received their report cards from testing data compiled by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). The results were mixed for schools around the county. North Canton City Schools (NCCS) was one of the districts that got all As and Bs in the six main components and on 10 of the subcomponents.

What were the district’s grades? What do the state report cards say about the district? What are the take aways from the grade card? What are future plans for improvement? Assistant Superintendent Dave Pilati explains it all below.

NCCS Grades

NCCS received all As and Bs on its report card this year. It also met 20 out of the 24 indicators used for the grading process. There are six components that are measured by the ODE and those are listed below with the grades NCCS received in each component.

B for Achievement – represents the number of students who passed the state tests and how well they performed on them. NCCS received a B for Performance Index and a B for Indicators Met subcomponents.

B for Gap Closing – shows how well districts are meeting the performance expectations for the most vulnerable populations of students in English language arts, math and graduation. Received a B in Annual Measurable Objectives subcomponent.

B for K-3 Literacy – looks at how successful the district is at getting struggling readers on track to proficiency in third grade and beyond. Received a B in the K-3 Literacy subcomponent.

A for Progress – looks at the growth that all students are making based on past performances. NCCS also received As in the four subcomponents including Overall, Gifted, Lowest 20 percent in Achievement and Students with Disabilities.

A for Graduation Rate – looks at the percent of students who finish high school with a diploma in four or five years. Received an A with 95.1 percent graduating in four years and 97.2 percent graduating in five years.

B for Prepared for Success – looks at how well students are prepared for training in a technical field, for work or for college.

What does the report card reveal?

Pilati said the report card shows that overall the district is doing a good job of educating students so students can achieve the growth they need.

"While it shows we are doing a good job with the core academics, the report cards are really a snapshot of one day of testing for our students and what’s happening with the student on that day," Pilati said. "We are the only district in the county that received all As and Bs in the subcomponents. While the district is happy with our results, we know that there are other really great districts in the county that are doing a good job with their students. I really feel that Ohio’s school districts are more than what the report cards show. The report cards don’t measure students in the arts nor the different career tech programs."

How Success was Achieved

The district achieved success with the report card ratings for a number of reasons. Pilati named six contributing factors in achieving the success.

- Having great teachers, administrators, support staff and non-instructional staff such as bus drivers, cooks, custodians and secretaries, etc.

- Great support from families who believe in what the district does and supports them in what they do.

- Focusing on standards-based instruction instead of just teaching chapter by chapter in the different curricular programs.

- Using data from regularly administered diagnostic assessments to drill down on specific areas in which students need additional intervention or areas where they flourish with enrichment.

- Alignment of instruction and intervention practices in literacy by using reading specialists in each of the K-2 and 3-5 grades and some in the middle school grades.

- A focus on building relationships with students including an emphasis on promoting and fostering a growth mindset with students.

"We shifted our focus a couple of years ago to focusing on teaching the standards-based instruction. The reading specialists have also made a huge positive impact on students who have been identified as struggling to master English Language Arts," Pilati said. "Some of the most progress has been made in English Language Arts. We’ve seen double digit increases in passing grades in third, fourth, fifth and seventh grades."

Other factors he mentioned are creating a collaborative culture, encouraging teachers to collaborate through team planning versus using the one size fits all approach, the emphasis of using technology in the classrooms, providing professional development opportunities for teachers and celebrating successes by recognizing staff when they do outstanding work.

What are the take aways?

Pilati said the top three factors that those working in the district and the parents can take away from the report card ratings include: The district is doing a good job for all students as exhibited in the four A grades in the subcomponents of the Progress section. Second, the district is making great progress in the Gap Closing and K-3 Literacy sections. The district was one of only 12 districts in Ohio to have an A in the Gifted subcomponent.

"While we got an A in gifted student progress, I know other districts are doing a great job in that area. The state upped the benchmarks to meet the indicators which made it difficult for some districts to show progress," he said.

One example Pilati provided was that the test pass rate in 2015 for third grade math was 65 percent. It was 73 percent in 2016 and it jumped to 80 percent for 2017. All test passage rates were set at 80 percent for this year’s report cards.

"I think because of the higher benchmarks, measurement of districts may not be showing an accurate picture of what’s happening with their students. Districts could be seeing progression in the passage of tests but if they didn’t reach the 80 percent, the district received a low grade," Pilati said.

What about the future?

The district has a number of goals for the future. Pilati said it will continue to work on closing the achievement gaps. The district will focus on the four indicators it didn’t meet including sixth grade math, 8th grade language arts, 8th grade math and high school geometry.

"No district in the county met the 8th grade math and high school geometry indicators. Those four areas will be our focus for the upcoming year," Pilati said. "Overall, the feedback has been positive. The teachers are pleased with the report card and the parents are pleased that we were number one in the county for meeting the 20 out of 24 indicators."