Ohio School Report Card ratings for Butler County show some have year-to-year gains

Levy defeats leading to staffing and curricular reductions for some.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

One of Butler County’s most financially distressed school systems remained a top performer locally, according to the recently released state report card for last school year.

Ross Schools achieved the highest rating, 5 stars, for overall results from the 2022-2023 school year as reported in the latest Ohio Department of Education annual review of the state’s public schools.

Middletown Schools continued its streak as one of the lowest-performing Butler County districts with an overall 2 star rating. New Miami Schools, which has the lowest enrollment in southwest Ohio, came in second-lowest, with a 2.5 star rating.

The ODE rating system is now in its second year of using new methodology, switching from its former use of letter grades for districts to a 1-5 star rating, with 5 being the highest score.

Monroe and Talawanda schools each recorded a 4.5 star rating, followed by Madison Schools at 4 stars.

Trailing these districts were Butler County’s largest school systems with the county’s most populous district Lakota and Fairfield and Hamilton schools coming in at 3.5 overall star rating for each.

Edgewood Schools, which is Butler County’s second most financially embattled district just came off a tax levy defeat in the spring and is undergoing millions of dollars in personnel and program cuts. It earned a 3 star rating.

The leader of Ross Schools, which has seen three consecutive voter rejections of proposed school tax hikes, forcing it into the state’s “fiscal caution” rating and the possibility of future state takeover, said his district’s years-long streak as a top performer is now in jeopardy.

“In the Ross Local School District, we’ve historically performed very well on state report card measures, but recent financial difficulties have threatened that longstanding tradition,” said Ross Superintendent Chad Konkle.

That Ross continued last school year to be the county’s top-rated district is a collective effort of the 2,800-student district, said Konkle.

“The state report card ratings … confirm that our standard of excellence remains unchanged, a testament to the tremendous students, staff, and families of the Ross Local Schools.”

Ross’ 97.7% four-year graduation rate was the second highest in the county, trailing only Madison Schools’ 99.%.

Locally, Hamilton Schools had the lowest, four-year graduation rate for last school year’s seniors at 82%, which is up from 2022 state report card percentage of 79.4%.

Hamilton school officials did not respond to requests to comment on its report card.

New Miami had the second lowest four-year graduation rate for 2022-2023 at 84.7% and Middletown Schools with 86.8%, which is down from its 2022 rate of 88%.

Middletown Superintendent Deborah Houser said the report card showed year-to-year gains in other areas.

“We’re celebrating growth in ELA (English Language Arts) and math. That’s a reflection of the revitalization of our math program, and our focus on core instruction for ELA. We know we have work to do when it comes to achievement, but we’re on the right track for reading and math instruction with what we have implemented,” said Houser.

Lakota’s graduation rate remained the same as the previous school year at more than 94% of seniors earning a diploma after four years as did the district’s Performance Index.

Fairfield Schools Superintendent Billy Smith echoed other local district leaders in pointing out the state’s report card is in some ways only a snapshot of local schools with a limited evaluation of a wide-range of learning programs and their effectiveness.

“While we are incredibly proud of the work being done, I think it is important to recognize that the state report card will never capture all the wonderful things that are happening in our district,” said Smith.

“However, we also recognize that there is some valuable data on the report cards, and we will certainly take that data into consideration as we talk about how we may better meet the needs of our students.”

Lakota Interim Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli echoed Smith noting: “As we know, the report card is one snapshot in time, related to a school district’s overall performance. Lakota is an excellent district but our progress scores are indicating that we are not growing students to their full potential.”

“Our achievement scores remain high (and) our focus must be on core instruction while balancing quality innovative practices. We must focus on personalizing our instruction and ensuring that we are delivering curriculum and instruction in a way that is best meeting each student’s needs,” said Lolli.

“In addition, we need to make sure that we are challenging our students and pushing them academically so that they can meet their maximum potential.”

“These report card results are not insurmountable,” said Lolli. “If we are all moving in the same direction, assessing our students’ learning throughout the year and making adjustments to meet their individual learning needs, it will make an impact.”

Kelly Spivey, superintendent of Edgewood Schools, said her district’s financial woes, including voter rejection last May of a proposed earned income tax to help fund the schools, had officials prepared for its report card results.

“The district wasn’t surprised with the outcome of the 2023 state report card,” said Spivey.

“The report card data indicates that students went up in their progress score and down in gap closing score by one point. The school district will continue to focus on teaching the state standards, evaluating resources and instructional strategies, measuring student progress with benchmark data, and adjusting instruction according to the students’ needs,” she said.

Talawanda school officials’ statement on the report card noted the district “is very proud of our students and staff and their hard work.”

According to district officials, “under the new star rating system on the Ohio Report Card, Talawanda received 22 out of 25 stars (and) received an overall 4.5 rating indicating that Talawanda exceeds the state standards.”

Ohio School Report Cards 2022-23     
BUTLEROverallPerform. Index %Progress4-year grad rateEnrollment
Ross5 Stars87.94 Stars97.72,527
Monroe4.5 Stars86.54 Stars97.22,685
Talawanda4.5 Stars80.14 Stars96.72,860
Madison4 Stars78.62 Stars99.21,450
Lakota3.5 Stars85.52 Stars94.616,962
Fairfield3.5 Stars76.33 Stars92.38,884
Hamilton3.5 Stars70.94 Stars828,934
Edgewood3 Stars73.32 Stars92.23,443
New Miami2.5 Stars61.63 Stars84.7614
Middletown2 Stars57.62 Stars86.85,823
WARRENOverallPerform. Index %Progress4-year grad rateEnrollment
Springboro5 Stars91.65 Stars98.85,766
Wayne5 Stars93.84 Stars98.51,515
Mason5 Stars94.24 Stars97.79,887
Kings4.5 Stars89.63 Stars93.94,806
Franklin4 Stars78.23 Stars97.52,528
Little Miami4 Stars84.42 Stars97.85,110
Carlisle4 Stars79.32 Stars97.41,524
Lebanon3.5 Stars83.82 Stars96.25,054
Data source: Ohio Dept. of Education

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