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State report cards out Thursday; schools say look at bigger picture

Published: Wednesday, September 13, 2017 @ 6:04 PM


            The Ohio Department of Education will release its annual school report cards on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017.
The Ohio Department of Education will release its annual school report cards on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017.

Ohio schools will be graded Thursday on everything from graduation rates for students who left two years ago to how much their very youngest students improved in reading.

But local and state education leaders cautioned this week that even with a broad swath of data, the state report card grades are just one piece of measuring whether schools are doing a good job.

State Superintendent Paolo DeMaria cited valuable data on the report card, but he acknowledged some grades a school receives are not a result of what teachers and principals are doing.

RELATED: Early report shows many test scores higher

“Any particular classroom is a unique collection of … students who come to the table with their own blessings and challenges,” he said. “It’s misleading to look at the report card and jump to the conclusion that, look, because a grade is low, there must be something wrong with the system.”

DeMaria believes the state tests that form the basis of much of the report card are valid measures, and that “the vast majority of students” do fine with online testing – two claims that some local educators disagree with.

Springfield City Schools Superintendent Bob Hill said most people don’t look deeply enough at the report card data, and end up judging a school or teacher, when those educators may be helping students overcome “tremendous challenges.”

LOOK BACK: How did your district score on last year’s report card

“If the student populations are not similar – at least in the things that we know correlate with test scores, like percent of students in poverty, percent of students who are English language learners, percent of students with disabilities, and student mobility – then comparing report cards will always be extremely misleading,” Hill said.

The report cards that come out Thursday are largely based on state exams that students took in spring 2017. Schools and districts will not receive an overall letter grade on this year’s report card.

Instead, they will get six component grades measuring the following: overall test achievement, year-over-year test progress, kindergarten-to-third-grade literacy improvement, graduation rates, gap closing between certain demographic groups of students, and a “prepared for success” measure that tracks things like honors diplomas, college entrance test scores and industry credentials.

RELATED: Two state tests eliminated for Ohio students

Lani Wildow, director of curriculum and instruction at Fairfield City Schools, acknowledged all those different angles on the data and said Fairfield pays particular attention to the year-over-year progress measures. But she said that’s still a limited tool.

“There is so much more to Fairfield than its report card,” Wildow said. “We have a tremendously successful music program and athletic program along with course offerings you do not see in every high school – Mandarin, Forensics, and Futuristic Literature to name a few. Our goal is to create an atmosphere where each and every child feels safe, valued and successful – something the state report card does not measure.”

Dayton Public School Superintendent Rhonda Corr said even though the state report card doesn’t paint a perfect picture of her district, DPS does carefully analyze the data all the way down to the individual teacher and student level.

“Our focus is a balance of the achievement and growth (measures),” Corr said. “We want our children performing at grade level and beyond, but we’re also looking for that growth because we know that many of our children are already behind.”

When at-risk students are behind, encouraging them to come to school – and actually being able to get them there – may be more important than a test score.

“You can’t test the love that a teacher has for a child based on a once-a-year state assessment,” Corr said. “Having adults who care for you when you walk in the building, making sure the quality of work going on in the classroom every day is engaging and consistent. Providing transportation … there’s no grade for bus arrival time.”

RELATED: State wants testing cut, but smaller than committee says

DeMaria encouraged families to look beyond the school district-level basics, at least to their individual school’s scores. He said he focuses on performance index (the most detailed measure of state test performance) as well as student progress scores, which show whether there was improvement from year to year.

“(Progress) tells that other part of the story,” DeMaria said. “If absolute performance isn’t particularly high, does the value-added score show that great things are happening nonetheless in terms of helping students?”

But Springfield’s Hill pointed out that so much of what goes on in schools is not reflected in the report card, which focuses heavily on English and math, with a little bit of science and social studies mixed in.

RELATED: Graduation requirements soften for class of 2018

Hill said the benefits of Springfield’s elementary school music and fine arts program, computer science and robotics classes, five world languages, ROTC program, and counselors in every school are not reflected on the report card.

“Individual students’ experiences are determined by much more than how 80 percent of their classmates scored on a certain test,” Hill said. “Parents should look closely at the needs and aspirations of their own child, and view a school’s report card as just one of many, many factors to consider when evaluating a school.”

Oakwood scores higher on state tests than any school in the region, but Superintendent Kyle Ramey is not a fan of the report card and testing system. But he and DeMaria do agree on the best way to learn if a school is doing well.

RELATED: Schools finally get year without major testing changes

“If you want to know how things are in the classroom, you need to go visit,” Ramey said. “Talk to the teacher, talk to the principal, volunteer to serve lunch or do something. You can get a better picture of how things are in the classrooms and in the hallways and make a more informed decision.”

Beavercreek voters to decide same school tax rejected in May

Published: Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 4:17 PM

Beavercreek City Schools is returning to the Nov. 7 ballot with the same proposal that voters narrowly defeated in the spring special election.

STAY CONNECTED: Greene County News on Facebook

The proposed 6-mill substitute emergency levy would permanently replace an emergency levy that is set to expire in 2018. If passed, the tax would not raise costs to property owners but continue at the current rate of $210 a year for property valued at $100,000, according to the district. 

The tax would generate approximately 13 percent of the district's daily operating revenue, paying for utilities, bus fuel, classroom supplies, technology and personnel.

MORE >>> Beavercreek school levy will return to voters in November after loss 

Substitute levies came into being in Ohio in 2008 and since then 20 public school districts have secured that revenue source with voters' approval. 

Instead of producing a fixed-dollar amount each year like an emergency levy regardless of new construction, a substitute levy's tax rate doesn't change, but the levy's annual revenue can increase as new homes get built and occupied. Under the current tax, property owners' tax bills gradually decrease as new homes get built and occupied.

You can find out more about the proposal by reading the district’s one-sheet graphic, which is posted on the district’s website.

Buildings damaged following large earthquake in Mexico City

Published: Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 4:20 PM

7.1 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Central Mexico

A magnitude 7.1 earthquake caused buildings to sway and break apart in Mexico City on the anniversary of the magnitude 8.0 quake that did major damage in 1985.

>> PHOTOS: Major earthquake strikes Mexico City

Pictures fell from walls, objects were shaken off of flat surfaces and computer monitors toppled over.

Below are the latest images from social media of the damage:

>> Read more trending news

Former UD student indicted in series of nude burglaries

Published: Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 3:55 PM

Andres Berdut, Montgomery County Jail
Andres Berdut, Montgomery County Jail

Seven months after allegedly breaking into University of Dayton residences with no clothes on, a man has been indicted for burglary and voyeurism.

Andres Berdut, 22, of Puerto Rico, will be arraigned Oct. 3 in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court on four counts each of burglary and voyeurism. 

Berdut, who was a University of Dayton student at the time, was arrested Feb. 16 after three female students reported that a nude man entered their houses in the early hours of Feb. 15.

Prosecutors say Berdut’s DNA has now also linked him to prior burglaries on the UD campus in September 2015 and December 2016.

Berdut was criminally trespassed off the UD campus following the incidents.

REPORT: Dayton police officer dragged by car

The first encounter occurred around 3:15 a.m. on Woodland Avenue, the second at 4 a.m. on Frericks Way and the third at 4:15 a.m. on College Park Avenue, according to an email advisory from the university. 

Kettering police investigate break-in at Cricket store

Published: Thursday, September 07, 2017 @ 2:51 AM

Capt. Jeff Kunkleman with Troy PD talks to NewsCenter 7's Steve Baker about the break-in that happened at the MetroPCS store early Monday morning. If you have an information about the break-in, please contact Troy police at 440-9911.

UPDATE @4:51 a.m.

Kettering police said it’s possible a break-in at a Cricket store is connected to similar breakins overnight.

Sgt. Brad Lambert said police were already checking for break-ins in the city after a Metro PCS in Huber Heights and a Rent-a-Center in Riverside were broken into.

>> RELATED: Break-ins at Huber Heights, Riverside keep police busy

Lambert said break-ins come in spurts, and if one break-in is reported, there usually end up being several.

“When it does happen, it typically happens in multiple jurisdictions in one night,” he said.

After being alerted of the break-ins in Huber Heights and Riverside, Kettering police were checking area cell phone stores for any criminal activity and came upon the break-in at the Cricket store. 

“We had an officer sitting and watching the store. He left to do something else, and an office came 10 minutes later and the store had been broken into,” Lambert said.

Employees are in the store taking inventory to determine what was stolen. 

Rocks were thrown through the front windows at all three break-ins.

UPDATE @4 a.m.

A Cricket employee is in the store working to determine if anything was stolen or damaged.

A rock was thrown through the front window, according to our crews on the scene.

>> Gunmen rob AT&T store with numerous customers inside

FIRST REPORT

Kettering police are investigating a reported break-in at a Cricket store.

The break-in was reported around 2:40 a.m. at the store in the 2200 block of Patterson Road.  A window was reportedly smashed in.

Huber Heights police are also investigating to break-ins early this morning. It’s unknown if the incidents are related.

This story will be updated as additional information becomes available.