. (Photo: jauhari1, Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The results are partly in for Marion County schools and districts across Ohio. 

The Ohio Department of Education released its 2020 school report cards Sept. 15 without giving districts a letter grade. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, overall grades for buildings and school districts as well as individual grades or ratings for given components or performance measures were not considered, stated the ODE in a news release. 

Also missing from this year’s evaluation is information about student performance on state tests, the academic growth of students during the school year and the extent to which achievement gaps are being addressed for students. This is due to legislation passed in March that waived standardized testing requirements and ratings for the state report card for the 2019-2020 school year. 

“While schools have less information available than in years past, we still emphasize the importance of gauging where students are in terms of academic achievement and using available district data to inform improvement to instruction,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria in the news release. “The education community’s goal is to carry forward the teamwork, collaboration and care we’ve seen since last spring through this new academic year and beyond.”

Information that is available on the report cards include demographic and enrollment data, graduation rates and indicators that determine whether students are prepared for college. 

For Marion City Schools, the four-year graduation rate for the class of 2019 came in at 87.6%, while the five-year graduation rate is at 87.9%. On last year’s report card, the four-year graduation rate stood at 85.6%, and the five-year rate was 92.5 percent. 

Meanwhile in the Improving At-Risk K-3 Readers section, 86.5% of kindergarten and 73.4% of first grade students are on track. However, 62.6% of second graders and 46.8% of third graders are off-track when it comes to their reading levels.

“I’m really encouraged by the fact that our kindergarteners and first graders over this past year, with the implementation of what we’ve done with the phonemic awareness program,” said Superintendent Ronald Iarussi. “I really feel like that’s headed in the right direction.

“Many of the changes we made, we really just got started this year with some of those. So, what we’ve seen in the past is not really a reflection of some of the important changes that we’ve made in the district this year. I think those numbers would’ve been a lot better if COVID wouldn’t have hit, too.” 

Iarussi expected some of the low performances seen in the district. He said the pandemic further exposed the inequalities MCS has over other districts in the area, such as high poverty, limited internet access and lack of support for childcare. 

“You look at those ratings, it’s so obvious that the more affluent schools perform better,” he said. “So, for the districts in high poverty, we need to continue to support them.” 

Last month, the ODE awarded MCS $918,750 with a four-year Comprehensive State Literacy Development Grant. The two subgrants will help enhance existing literacy programs for preschool and middle school-aged children, such as training for staff to improve teaching, providing literacy coaches for students and providing families and community members the skills to help children’s literacy levels at home and school.

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In the Prepared for Success section of the report card, only 158 students high scores on all parts of the ACT, earned an honors diploma, and/or earned an industry-recognized credential. However, the number of students receiving a dual enrollment credit is at 25.4%.

To help students achieve high ACT scores, Iarussi said Marion Harding High offers ACT prep to all its students. He also added that students receiving an industry-recognized credential jumped from 6% in 2019 to 16% in 2020. An industry-recognized credential could be in the form of a vocational program or a leadership certification for Six Sigma, set of techniques and tools for process improvement.

“Those are the kind of things that actually prepare our kids for careers, maybe even outside of getting a college degree,” he said. 

For more information on the state report cards, visit

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