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SWANTON — Ted Haselman, principal of Swanton Middle School, was shocked recently to learn that the school was given the distinction of being in the top 2 percent of high-achieving buildings in the state of Ohio.
“I was extremely surprised,” he said. “I've talked to a number of different administrators from districts around the area. None of them have ever received a letter like this.”
The middle school was ranked “excellent with distinction,” by the Ohio Department of Education after Battelle for Kids, a contractor for the education system, established the ranking.
According to a letter from Battelle for Kids, “rankings are established [based on preliminary data] by a composite mean gain index, which is determined by dividing the mean gain by the standard of error.” The organization said that number then represents “the magnitude and confidence of the amount of growth students had” in the school building.
“Swanton Schools is a great school system,” Mr. Haselman said. “We really are doing some great things ... and excelling. I think we’re raising expectations and challenging our students, and the students — they’ve responded.”
The ranking is based on many factors, he added.
“It’s based on what your students do ... whether you hit all of your indicators and what your performance index comes out to,” he said. “With Battelle, they calculate value added, the years worth of growth, not whether or not a student passes the test.”
Mr. Haselman said he has been able to raise the bar in the middle school with advanced classes and assistance tailored to student weaknesses.
“We’ve worked really hard to improve the education for every student,” he said. “The students that are struggling, I place those students into classrooms here at the school that will give them the interventions they need to address their weaknesses.”
Challenging students has also helped to improve progress.
“I created advanced classes,” Mr. Haselman said. “Our higher-end students are placed into advanced classes, so we're also stretching those students as well.”
The rating is the first ever of its kind for the middle school.
While Mr. Haselman knows the special work to maintain the rating takes work, he said that the award has given many confidence in learning at the school.
“We place people in positions to try to allow them to have positive results and succeed,” he said of the students. “ ... It really has been humbling to see that the hard work that we're doing is paying off.”