COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- No district received all A's on the new A-F report cards Ohio released Thursday -- but none received all F's, the state's top public education official said.
Superintendent Richard Ross told reporters ahead of Thursday's release of the first round of new scores that districts instead scored at all points on the scale.
Ross said the new report cards are intended to allow parents, communities and educators to more plainly see the data about their schools so they can capitalize on strengths and improve on weaknesses.
"The new report card system is not a 'gotcha.' And they need to understand that if a school or district gets a lower grade than it expected, that doesn't necessarily mean students got a poorer education there than they did the year before," Ross said. "But what it does mean is that the school and district will have to work to meet new, higher expectations."
The 2013 report cards rate schools and buildings in the first nine of 18 new performance categories. Districts and buildings won't receive overall letter grades until 2015.
Aggregate state results weren't immediately available on the interactive Ohio Department of Education website where data was released -- but a sampling of big districts showed lots of failing grades.
City districts in Cincinnati and Cleveland each received six F's, one D and two C's on their assessment. The Columbus schools earned four F's, three D's and two C's.
The apparent downgrades had been anticipated as Ohio moves to a new system grounded in often tougher performance criteria that the state wants its students to meet to compete nationally.
The revamped system replaces the six-tier assessment system that featured such labels as excellent and continuous improvement.
The new letter grades are being applied to traditional public school districts and buildings, community schools, STEM schools, and college preparatory boarding schools. Performance will be assessed in areas including elementary-grade literacy, student academic performance, graduation rates, and college readiness.
The phased rollout was intended to prevent schools from seeing sudden drops in their ratings as the state moves to a more rigorous evaluation system. Districts were bracing for the low grades, whatever the reason, to anger parents and businesses in communities that rely on healthy schools for their reputations and property values.
"Some people say it's unfair to keep moving the performance target for schools," Ross said. "But I want you to know we are going to keep and need to keep improving for the sake of our children. The world is just moving too fast to have a static goal."
Ross said meeting tougher goals will eventually serve Ohio well.
"We must have the courage to be honest with ourselves and honest with our communities about where we really stand, so we can work together to improve," he said. "And believe me, if we do that, we will better understand what we have to do to ensure that our children are qualified to have the jobs and careers they desire."
Associated Press writer Andrew Welsh-Huggins contributed to this report.
Ohio Report Cards: http://newreportcard.education.ohio.gov