BW schools earn Ohio’s highest rating — Excellent with Distinction
The Big Walnut Local School District earned top honors from the state, Excellent with Distinction, for the 2011-12 school year; the first year the district has earned the top rating. The district received an Excellent rating each of the previous six years.
“This rating is a reflection of the collective effort and hard work of our students, staff and supportive community,” said Big Walnut Superintendent Steve Mazzi. “We couldn’t be happier.”
The overall rating is determined by evaluations in four general areas: the percentage of state indicators met, Performance Index score, Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) results and Value Added rating. Big Walnut met 100 percent of the 26 state indicators that cover testing, attendance and graduation rate.
“We have been working with our teachers to adjust instruction based on formative assessment results,” said Big Walnut’s Director of Academic Achievement, Angie Pollock. “These frequent and informal assessments have provided teachers with the information needed to refine their teaching practices based on student understanding at any given time.”
Through this refinement process the district is able to more fully meet its mission to inspire and guide each student to his or her maximum potential, Pollock said; and meeting the AYP and Value Added markers indicate that Big Walnut is working diligently to close the achievement gap among various subgroups of students, and that students exceeded the State of Ohio’s expected growth for one year.
“The growth we have seen is attributed to the hard work of our students and parents,” Pollock added. “We also recognize and appreciate the manner in which our teachers and staff work together to challenge and encourage students to reach the next level.”
Mazzi said Big Walnut strives to help each student achieve at their highest ability by focusing on increasing the skills of each student.
“Big Walnut is not about getting all students to a certain level, but we are about teaching and guiding each student to a higher individual level,” Mazzi said.
Both Pollock and Mazzi noted that another contributing factor to Big Walnut’s success is the work that teachers continue to do in their Professional Learning Communities (PLC). Waiver days and late starts are used for PLC where teacher groups meet to discuss assessment data and determine adjustments that need to be made in classroom instruction as well as supplemental instruction students need to be successful.
They said PLC time will become even more critical in adjusting instruction as standards and assessments change in the 2014–15 school year, with more rigorous state standards and assessments coming online.
Of the 610 school districts in the State of Ohio, only 138 earned an Excellent with Distinction rating. All four school districts within Delaware County received the top honor.
“I’m so proud of our students and staff for working so hard to earn this honor, and I thank the community for supporting our students and staff in the effort,” said Big Walnut Board of Education President Pam Lillie. “It’s important to add that we accomplished this while spending much less per pupil than the state average. This is quite a testament to everyone involved in our district.”
The state average annual expenditure per pupil is $10,696. Big Walnut spent $9,261 per pupil during the 2011-12 school year.
“We know much more goes into making Big Walnut the district that it is, and that this is just a snapshot of the overall health of the district, but it is what the State of Ohio uses to rate school districts,” Mazzi said. “We are extremely proud of the work we do here, and are glad to see it reflected in our Excellent with Distinction rating.”