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Columbus schools remain on academic watch

Columbus earned just over 79 points out of a possible 120 for its students' academic performance last school year. The score is based on 25 standards including exam scores, attendance and graduation rates. The district would have received a "C" grade with an additional eight-tenths of a percentage point on the state grading scale. Superintendent Gene Harris says she's dissappointed in the score, but she is happy the district has improved each of the last five years.

"We are the second largest district in the state," Harris says. "When you have as large of district as we are, and continue to make the steady kind of improvement like you have seen here on our graduation rate. Of course we compare ourselves against the bet, but we compare ourselves against ourselves."

Columbus has been on academic watch for the last three years after several years of academic emergency. Harris says such improvement is commendable, especially in a time of district budget cuts and layoffs.

"We are making this progress amid declining budgets, cutting budgets, cutting teachers," Harris says. "Our staff is still maintaining that focus."

Among the eight largest urban districts in Ohio, Columbus, Cleveland and Youngstown are the only districts on academic watch. Columbus Alternative and Centennial are the only Columbus high schools to receive excellent ratings from the state. East High School is the only Columbus school in the lowest rating category: academic emergency.