42 percent of high school seniors not at graduation bar yet

Published: Tuesday, October 17, 2017 @ 8:50 PM

Ohio’s Class of 2018 is the first group to take new, harder, end-of-course exams tied to graduation. JEREMY P. KELLEY / STAFF
Ohio’s Class of 2018 is the first group to take new, harder, end-of-course exams tied to graduation. JEREMY P. KELLEY / STAFF

About 58 percent of current Ohio high school seniors have already met or exceeded new test score requirements for graduation, according to a presentation at Tuesday’s state school board meeting.

That means 42 percent of seniors either need to score well on those tests in the next six months, or take advantage of a wide swath of new pathways to graduation — workforce readiness with a job credential, or meeting standards like good senior-year attendance, classroom grades, community service or “capstone projects.”

And no matter what pathway they use, students still need to earn at least 20 credits from passing their classes, as they have in past years.

RELATED: Governor, legislature approve graduation changes

Ohio Department of Education senior director of accountability Chris Woolard estimated that another 19 percent of seniors are “highly likely” to meet test score requirements this year, based on their scores so far.

If that estimate is accurate, it would mean 77 percent are “on track” to meet the testing part of the graduation requirements, either via the state end-of-course exams or a remediation-free score on the ACT or SAT.

“This is up by approximately 10 percent from last fall and shows that our schools and students are working hard to meet the requirements,” ODE spokeswoman Brittany Halpin said.

EARLIER: Panel suggested diploma pathway without tests

That 77 percent would not be far behind Ohio’s existing high school graduation rate, which has climbed slowly from 82.2 percent to 83.5 percent over the past four years, when the easier Ohio Graduation Test was the standard used.

Woolard emphasized that in addition to the 77 percent estimate, there are other students who may be on track to the workforce graduation pathway, or may be exempt from testing requirements because of certain special education status, and thus eligible to graduate. That data has not yet been analyzed.

The Class of 2018 is the first group governed by new, harder, Common Core-based end-of-course exams. There are seven high school tests in math, English, science and social studies, with students needing 18 of 35 possible points for graduation.

RELATED: How did your schools do on the state report card?

Last year, amid worries that tens of thousands of students wouldn’t pass those tests, the state board and legislature softened standards for current seniors only, adding the 93 percent attendance, 2.5 GPA, 120 work/volunteer hours and other pathways to a diploma.

State officials are expected to debate in the coming months whether to extend those options to the Class of 2019 and beyond, or create some hybrid system. According to ODE, the current junior class has about 1 percent fewer students “on-track” to graduate as the Class of 2018 had at this time last year.

There is some question about the state’s estimate that another 19 percent of seniors are “highly likely” to meet the bar of 18 points on state tests later this year. Of the 10 percentage-point improvement Halpin mentioned, only five points of that came from improvement on state tests. The rest were students who earned remediation-free scores on the ACT or SAT.

RELATED: School leaders aim to close racial achievement gap

The question is whether a 19-point surge is likely this year, after a smaller increase last year. ODE data shows that about 1 in 3 students who scored low on a state test the first time improved their score on a retake.

But Woolard said retakes are not the only factor, as nearly 20,000 seniors have only taken five of the seven state tests.

“There are a lot of kids who still haven’t taken the government test,” because their schools kept it as a senior year class, Woolard said. “Students tend to do really well on it; we had 72 percent score proficient on that test. … Something like 40 percent still need government, so there’s a lot of points still on the table.”

VOTERS GUIDE: See DPS candidates’ answers on key questions

Local school districts varied widely in the percentage of seniors who had already met the graduation standard for test scores. The data followed familiar trends, with suburban high-income districts at the top, while charter schools and urban high-poverty districts were at the bottom.

In Springboro, Centerville and Mason, almost 90 percent of students had already met the testing standard, while Springfield and Middletown were near 43 percent, and Dayton was at 25 percent.

There were some schools that had a fairly low percentage of students that had already met the standard, but a high percentage deemed “on track” to do so by the end of the year. Southeastern schools near Springfield had only 43 percent already over the bar, but 91 percent on track. The Dayton Early College Academy charter school had 70 percent on track despite only 23 percent meeting the standard so far.

Dayton Public Schools (42.5 percent) and several charter schools below 40 percent had the lowest rate of students “on track” for graduation via test scores.

Ohio college towns ranked by cost, social scene, opportunities

Published: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 7:30 AM

Cheryl Schrader, Wright State University's next president, says she will start tackling the college's financial issues right away.

Ohio is home to dozens of universities, but just 10 of the cities those schools call home were recently ranked in the nation’s top 415.

Personal finance website WalletHub ranked America’s college towns by three main factors including “wallet friendliness,” social environment and academic and economic opportunities.

RELATED: Wilberforce U. president takes job at Texas college

The highest ranking Dayton area college town was Oxford, which received the No. 29 overall ranking. The town is home to Miami University.

The next highest rated Ohio college city was Cincinnati, which came in at No. 50 overall, according to WalletHub. Columbus came in at No. 71 followed by Athens at No. 112 and Bowling Green at No. 267.

Dayton, which is home two universities, was ranked No. 345 by WalletHub. Akron was the lowest rated Ohio college town at No. 378.

RELATED: Bad fraternity behavior causing schools to take sweeping action

Ann Arbor, home to the University of Michigan, was ranked No. 1 while Orlando, Fla. came in at No. 2. Rexburg, Idaho took the third place spot, according to WalletHub. Below are the Ohio college towns that made the list:

29. Oxford: Miami University

50. Cincinnati: University of Cincinnati and Xavier University

71. Columbus: Ohio State University

112. Athens: Ohio University

RELATED: Around 1,900 to graduate from Wright State this weekend

267. Bowling Green: Bowling Green State University

325. Kent: Kent State University

332. Cleveland: Cleveland State University and Case Western Reserve University

345. Dayton: University of Dayton and Wright State University

372. Toledo: University of Toledo

378. Akron: University of Akron

Students walk between class periods on the campus of Miami University in Oxford, Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017. GREG LYNCH / STAFF(Staff Writer)

Boston University study finds repeated hits to the head can cause CTE, without concussions

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 10:27 PM

Youth football players. (Photo: Boston25News.com)
Youth football players. (Photo: Boston25News.com)

Kimberly Archie was pleased to hear about the new findings on chronic brain injuries released by Boston University on Thursday. 

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Doctors at BU have found constant hits to young athletes – even without concussions – cause Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE. 

Archie says this better explains how her son died.

“I think it's great that peer-reviewed research has finally caught up to what a lot of us have known for a long time,” she told Boston 25 News. “And it seemed very suspect the way he died because the behavior was so erratic.”

Archie says her son died at age 24 from reckless driving that seemed suicidal, but she didn't understand why, until she had his brain autopsied and found he suffered from CTE after playing football from age 7 to 15.

“My son never had any brain injuries or what a lot of people like to call a concussion,” Archie said. 

The new research could change the way some sports are played. The athletic director at Walpole High School says he already plans to talk to coaches about the findings from BU, to find ways players can avoid those dangerous hits.

Ron Dowd says the new findings that hard hits can cause brain damage in several sports at a young age -- makes sense. 

“The more education, the more proof that you have is always better, you're always looking to improve” Dowd said. 

He plans to work with coaches to show players how to make tackles and plays without injuring their brain.

“You can still encompass techniques and so forth, still get your point across and not be slamming heads,” he said. 

Dowd says game rules could also be changed in the future to prevent CTE after this new research.

Archie hopes the new research helps other families avoid the loss she's had.

“It's different once you have the proof and you look back, then it becomes crystal clear,” she said.

3-month-old girl exposed to heroin, taken to hospital

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 10:17 PM

Crystal Cumberland. (Photo: WPXI.com)
Crystal Cumberland. (Photo: WPXI.com)

Police arrested a woman after they say she exposed her baby to fentanyl.

>> Read more trending news

But she told investigators that's not the drug she thought she was using.

The baby had to be flown to Children's Hospital from Uniontown.

Crystal Cumberland is in jail and facing charges including aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of a child.

According to Pennsylvania State Police in Fayette County, in November, the baby girl had to be given several doses of Narcan to revive her.

At the time, investigators thought the baby overdosed on heroin, but according to a criminal complaint, Cumberland "admitted to hospital staff to snorting a white powder to get high, which exposed the infant to fentanyl that was sold as heroin." 

Children left in freezing car while mother talked to friends in mall, police say

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 5:39 PM

Mother Talked To Friends In Mall While Children Left In Freezing Car

After getting calls about mothers leaving their kids in freezing temperatures, police are warning parents not to leave their children in their vehicles.

>> Read more trending news

A mother left her two young children in a car as she spoke with friends for more than 45 minutes, according to WXIN

Indianapolis Metropolitan police officer Stephen Jones found an 11-year-old girl clutching her 2-year-old brother inside a Toyota Corolla around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at Castleton Square Mall. The outside temperature was 8 degrees at the time, according to WXIN

The girl told Jones she had the keys to the car but had turned it off. Jones asked her to turn on the car. 

Jones went into the mall and found the 29-year-old mother speaking with a group of her friends in front of a store. She was very apologetic. 

Jones filed a report with the Department of Child Services and warned the woman to never leave her children alone again, according to WISH

Hours earlier, police had also responded to a call that a woman left her son, 4, and daughter, 7, in a car in freezing temperatures for more than an hour, according to WISH.