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District looking to improve literacy


XENIA — Xenia Community Schools officials are admitting disappointment over the literacy portion of report cards released Thursday by the Ohio Department of Education.

But at the same time, nobody is dwelling on the negative either.

“The Xenia Community School District is disappointed in the grade they received for K-3 literacy,” Superintendent Denny Morrison said. “However, we are encouraged by the instructional improvements we are making within the district.”

The district received a D for K-3 literacy improvement as 95 of the 239 not on track improved to on track. There was a deduction of 16, which represents the number of third graders who did not pass the Ohio Achievement Assessments and were not on a reading improvement and monitoring plan, making the final total 79 of 239 or 33.1 percent.

XCS has already taken steps to close the gap.

“The school district has implemented a new assessment system … Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) to benchmark students’ academic readiness and levels of achievement,” Morrison said. “Students take the MAP assessment three times a year, and teachers use this information to inform instruction. Xenia schools have also implemented a new intervention program that takes the MAP scores and ties instructional activities to students’ weaknesses or ares of improvement.”

The district is only a year into the process so the upward tick will be slow at first, according to Morrison.

“You see a dip first before you really see improvement,” he said. “We’ve put pieces in place that are going to pay dividends in the long term. Overall, the district is excited about improving instructional practices, establishing consistency among the five elementary buildings, and setting high expectations for teaching and learning.”

Morrison was also excited about the graduation rate.

The four-year rate of 84.8 percent earned a C, but most telling was the five-year rate of 90.7 percent, up from 82.9 percent last year.

“That’s great,” Morrison said. “We are seeing results, almost immediate results from the programs we put in place for our high school kids. That is so rewarding to me. (But) it’s not where we’re going to stop. We’re going to keep on going.”

Xenia started up its virtual academy in 2014-2015, allowing students an online alternative to finish school and earn a degree. Twelve students have already earned their diplomas and 16 are on track to do the same this year.

That option has helped boost the five-year grad rate.

“I really believe that the good news is that we’re showing the community that we’re going to take all kids and we’re going to give every single student a chance to be successful,” Morrison said. “No matter what. We’re not going to give up on them. If they want that high school diploma, they can come an earn it. This is going to pay them dividends the rest of their lives.”

The ODE will release the rest of the report cards, which include achievement, progress, and gap closing, along with an overall grade, later this year.

By Scott Halasz

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Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.