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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

Police release condition of Trenton boy hit by car

Published: Sunday, November 19, 2017 @ 12:14 PM


            A 9-year-old boy was hit by a car Saturday night on State Street in Trenton.
A 9-year-old boy was hit by a car Saturday night on State Street in Trenton.

Trenton Police Chief Arthur Scott said the 9-year-old boy who was hit by a car Saturday does not have life threatening injuries.

The accident happened about 5:45 p.m. at East State Street and Sal Boulevard and police are still investigating. Scott said the boy’s injuries do not appear to be life threatening. The boy was riding his bike when he was hit. No charges have been filed against the driver yet, but Scott said there could some forthcoming.

EARLIER REPORT: Trenton 9-year-old boy hit by a car

“The preliminary investigation basically indicated the child may have driven out into the road in front of the car,” Scott said, adding State Street is not a good place for a child to be riding a bike at night. “It’s a very busy road, especially during a rain storm.”

Suspect named in Pennsylvania police officer's shooting death

Published: Sunday, November 19, 2017 @ 3:54 AM
Updated: Sunday, November 19, 2017 @ 11:57 AM

Rahmael Sal Holt
New Kensington police
Rahmael Sal Holt(New Kensington police)

Here’s what we know about the fatal shooting of a New Kensington, Pennsylvania, police officer:

>> Visit WPXI.com for complete coverage

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5 things to know about the new Holtman’s Donuts in Butler County

Published: Saturday, November 18, 2017 @ 12:00 PM

Holtman’s Donuts open at Streets of West Chester

An award-winning, family-owned doughnut shop chain with a devoted Greater Cincinnati fan-base recently debuted its first Butler County location.

Holtman’s Donuts, which also has locations in Over-The-Rhine, Loveland and Williamsburg, located its fourth storefront at 9558 Civic Centre Blvd. in the Streets of West Chester shopping center.

We spoke with marketing and branding manage Katie Plazarin, who co-owns the shop with her husband, Danny, to give readers five things to know about Holtman’s Donuts and its newest site.

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1. Numerous varieties made fresh daily

Keeping with tradition, donuts are handmade fresh and from scratch each day, with a staff that cranks out the sweet treats as quickly as possible.

“We make it from scratch, so it’s a labor of love,” Plazarin said. “It’s very intensive. Our philosophy is to kind of keep things the way they’ve always been.”

The seemingly endless amount of cake donuts include interesting, sometimes unusual flavors like Lucky Charms Marshmallow, Red Velvet Cake, Oreo, Iced Blueberry and Maple Bacon, to name a few.

There’s also a wide array of yeast doughnuts, doughnut holes, cakes, danishes, fritters and turnovers.

MORE: 6 things to know about the new Chuy’s in West Chester

2. Making the doughnuts isn’t a top secret process

There’s no hiding the process from prying eyes at the new Holtman’s Donuts. Employees concoct the sweet treats up front in an area that allows onlookers a sneak peek at each doughnut being loving — and sometimes laboriously — crafted as they enter and exit the business.

There’s also a glassed-off area that shows the doughnuts and other creations being put in and taken out of ovens before being put on display for purchase.

“We want to make sure we’re not hiding anything from you,” Plazarin said. “You’re seeing exactly what we’re doing, what we’re putting in the doughnuts.”

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3. A multi-generation family business

Holtman’s Donuts’ roots stretch back to 1960, when brothers Charles and Marvin Holtman opened the first shop. Family members opened other locations thereafter, bringing the total number to 13 at one point.

Charles Holtman daughter, Toni Plazarin, took over the remaining location in 1995, going on with her husband Chuck to open a second one in Williamsburg in 2009. The couple, along with children Becky, Lorrie and Danny, operated the family business for years, with Danny and wife Katie opening a shop in Over-the-Rhine Shop four years ago.

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4. The new shop’s larger size helps all locations

Plazarin told this media outlet that the new location is her “dream shop” and has everything other locations have, but is larger, with increased seating both indoors and outdoors.

“We opened Over-the-Rhine in 2013 and we very quickly ran out of room,” she said. “It’s a very small operation down there.”

The entire OTR space would fit inside just the indoor setting area in West Chester, Plazarin said.

“With the (new) store, we wanted to blow people away,” she said. “We wanted a space where you could sit and you could come with your family … and have a fun time.”

The added space has allowed Holtman’s Donuts to produce more donuts and fulfill bigger orders, which has allowed it to start catering again, Plazarin said.

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5. Hours have changed to deal with demand

Since making its West Chester debut in September, the doughnut shop changed its hours of operations to accommodate customer demand. Its now open from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays and Mondays and 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Accidental shooting fatal in West Chester Twp.

Published: Sunday, November 19, 2017 @ 10:01 AM

West Chester police responded to a report of a shooting Saturday night and it appears there was an accidental discharge of a firearm. GREG LYNCH / STAFF
West Chester police responded to a report of a shooting Saturday night and it appears there was an accidental discharge of a firearm. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

West Chester Twp. officials are reporting an accidental shooting Saturday night.

Township spokeswoman Barb Wilson said police were called to a shooting in the 8600 block of Meadowview Drive at around 9:30 p.m. Wilson said a preliminary investigation reveals there was an accidental discharge of a firearm and a 19-year-old man died.

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West Chester police K-9s now outfitted with bullet proof vests

Wilson said the coroner will have to provide the name and that report will not be released today.