ST. MARYS — A local school recently received its results on how its students performed on a state-mandated test.
Back in March, sophomores at St. Marys Memorial High School took the Ohio Graduation Test (OGT), and the students scored similar to results in the past. Of the students who took the test who were at or above the level of proficient, the results were the following: 91 percent for reading, 90 percent for math, 87 percent for writing, 83 percent for science and 85 percent for social studies.
"I touched base with a couple other schools, we were very similar," Memorial High School Principal Dave Lewis said. "Wapak is one that I always talk to. We were very similar to them."
The tests feature three areas students can rank.
"There's three levels, there's proficient, there's accelerated and there's advanced," Lewis said. "You have to be at least proficient. And then we have basic and limited, and anyone who's basic or limited has to take it again."
In 2011, the students at or above the level of proficient were as follows: 92 percent in reading, 93 percent in math, 94 percent in writing, 80 percent in science and 82 percent in social studies.
"It seems like every year there's always one test where everyone's like, 'Oh, my gosh, what's going on with this test,' and it seemed like for some reason social studies has been that test," Lewis said. "We were pleased. Obviously we want to do better and have more of our students passing it the first time that they take it."
One of the areas that did see a jump was from the accelerated to advanced levels.
"It seems like, looking at our advanced levels, as far as the percentage of kids who scored at the advanced levels, we went up," Lewis said. "It seemed like more kids were scoring at the advanced levels."
For the students who didn't pass the OGT this time, there are multiple chances to try the test again.
"They take it the spring of their sophomore year," Lewis said. "There's a summer session, they can take it the fall of their junior year, they can take it the spring of their junior year. Then they can take it again in the summer, again in the fall of their senior year and again in the spring of their senior year. So, there's six chances they have to pass it."
The summer session runs through the end of June.
"The students who take it in the summer, there's 10 hours of tutoring, and then they can take the test after that," he said, noting the 2012 senior class all passed. "As far as seniors, all the seniors made it. I had a couple that went down to the last minute, but they got it."
The students need to pass the OGT to graduate.
"Even if they meet all their requirements, they would not graduate," Lewis said. "But it usually doesn't happen — there's just so many opportunities. If a kid wants to pass it, they're going to pass it."
To help in OGT passage, there will be a change in this upcoming school year with more OGT preparation, Lewis noted.
"Every year, we have the freshmen take a practice OGT, and we score that and we share the results with those kids, but there's never really been any teeth to it," he said. "So what we're doing is the freshmen that took the practice test last year, when we get back in the fall, I'm going to sit down with my departments and we're going to kind of pick a cut off from those scores on the practice test. The kids who don't score above that are going to get some OGT remediation during Rider Time probably second trimester to get them some extra help to prepare for the test so we can them to hopefully pass it for the first time."
The trimester schedule could also help moving students up a level.
"As far as increasing our percentages for the advanced and accelerated levels, I think having going to the trimesters and having more time in the classroom, I think that's going to help," Lewis said. "And some of the things we've done with curriculum alignment and pacing guides, I think we'll see some of those numbers jump, hopefully."
Changes could be happening at the state level, though.
"We are waiting for word from the state as far as what's going to happen with testing here in the next couple years — is it going to be online, which is what they say, it's all going to go online, you're going to have instant results," Lewis said. said. "So we're just going to have to wait for word from them."
Overall, Lewis said performance improvement is a goal.
"We want to get better, and we're very comparable to similar districts," he said.
"We just want to see their percentages to go up for the number of kids who pass it the first time. The more kids we can get to the advance levels, the better. I think with the new common core standards, I feel confident after two years with all the work we've done with curriculum alignment, I think we're there. There's not much more we can do, I think we're headed in the right direction at this time."