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.”

2 Chainz's 'Trap House' back for the holidays

Published: Friday, November 24, 2017 @ 11:13 AM

Trap House on Howell Mill Road
Photo via WSBTV.com
Trap House on Howell Mill Road(Photo via WSBTV.com)

The famous Atlanta Trap House is back for the holidays.

>> Read more trending news

Grammy-nominated artist 2 Chainz’s management agency, Street Execs, posted a video on its Facebook page on Thursday announcing the return of the house.

Over the summer, the house, located on Howell Mill Road in Atlanta, was painted pink with the word “TRAP” above the door, and a pink car was placed out front. The stunt was intended to promote 2 Chainz’s new album, "Pretty Girls Like Trap Music." 

Crowds of people showed up to see and take pictures at the house.

It was painted back to its original white color in the summer after the lease ran out, but it appears it will soon make its return in holiday style.

Street Execs held a grand opening of “Trap Wonderland” Thursday night at a new location -- 1740 Defoor Place.

It’s unclear how long the new attraction will be active.

Watch the teaser video below:

Man pays Middletown water bill with fake cash

Published: Friday, November 24, 2017 @ 10:58 AM


            Counterfeit money passed in the Dayton area in the past few weeks. UNITED STATES SECRET SERVICE
Counterfeit money passed in the Dayton area in the past few weeks. UNITED STATES SECRET SERVICE

Middletown police are investigating counterfeit money used by a resident to pay a water bill in October.

A man paid a $200 bill on Oct. 26 with a $100 bill and five $20 bills, according to Barbara Bradley, assistant finance director. This news agency isn’t naming the man because he hasn’t been charged, said Lt. Scott Reeve.

MORE: Escaped inmate found 3 miles from hospital

On Wednesday, police confirmed with Fifth Third Bank that the $100 bill was counterfeit, according to the report.

A video of the transaction was recovered for evidence.

On average $30,000 in counterfeit money is taken in monthly in the Dayton area and about $100,000 monthly for southern Ohio, which includes Dayton, Columbus and Cincinnati, according to Secret Service Agent Kevin Dye of the Dayton office.

MORE: 18-year-old pedestrian killed in Warren County; driver thought he hit a deer

“As the holidays approach, more counterfeit is received due to heavy cash intake for shopping. Retailers should carefully look at cash received during the holidays and call police if suspicious,” Dye said.

Wright State seeking federal funds for new archives center

Published: Friday, November 24, 2017 @ 9:51 AM

Wright State has applied for funding through the Priority Development and Advocacy Committee.
Wright State has applied for funding through the Priority Development and Advocacy Committee.

Wright State University is seeking federal funding for a planned $8.2 million archives center.

The university announced in October that it was launching a $6.5 million fundraising campaign to create a new home for its historical archives. The Priority Development and Advocacy Committee released the list of applying projects Tuesday and the WSU archives center was listed as an applicant.

Wright State has asked the committee for $2.2 million in funding over the next year, according to the school’s application. The committee will sort through to make a prioritized list of what to ask for in D.C.

» RELATED: Wright State launches $6.5 million campaign for new archives center

The archives project calls for the renovation of 30,000 square feet of space at the former Wright-Patt Credit Union at 2455 Presidential Drive and the relocation of Wright State’s Special Collections and Archives. The new space would offer more appropriate environmental conditions including temperature, humidity, light, air quality and fire protection and suppression for the historical artifacts, according to the school’s application.

Wright State’s archives contains the largest Wright Brothers Collection in the world, first-edition works by Dayton poet Paul Laurence Dunbar and the archives of the Dayton Daily News among other historic archives, according to WSU.

» RELATED: Air Force office investigating Wright State for possible visa fraud

The proposed archives center will include the following amenities, according to the university:

• A reading room where students, scholars and visitors may examine historic materials in an up-close and personal way.

• An exhibit gallery housing rotating exhibitions that highlight the depth and breadth of Wright State’s collections.

• A conference room for lectures, meetings and special events.

• A classroom to welcome area school children and students from Wright State’s public history graduate program.

» RELATED: Beavercreek sports center looking for new sponsor for naming rights

• An oral history recording and teaching lab where students, faculty, researchers and the community can record their stories.

• A media lab for listening and viewing oral histories and watching original film footage.

• A preservation lab, processing room, clean room and exhibit prep room that will give staff the tools and space they need to adequately care for the history of the Dayton region.

Restaurant employee helps disabled veteran with his meal

Published: Friday, November 24, 2017 @ 10:52 AM



Liesel Bockl/Getty Images/fStop
(Liesel Bockl/Getty Images/fStop)

A Georgia man touched by a restaurant employee’s kindness has shared the message with the world.

>> Read more trending news

Dallas Smith Jr., of Sylvester, Georgia, was at Huddle House restaurant in Douglas, Georgia, on Wednesday around lunchtime, when he saw a customer trying to eat his pancakes, with one hand.

Smith said the man who was dining with him moved his plate to reach out and help the customer, but then a cook stepped in.

“She was on the other side of the counter and she saw that he was trying to cut his pancakes and she said, ‘I’ll get it,’” Smith said.

Smith said the employee put down what she had and walked over to the table, which is when he had the thought to start recording a video with his phone.

“It was kind of a warm feeling in there anyway because everyone knows everybody,” Smith said. “It threw me so far off-guard when she did it. For me, it was just a blessing to see.”

Smith said he posted the video on Facebook to share what he had witnessed with his friends and family. Since then, nearly 3,000 people have shared it. 

“This day and time, when you see that, it gives you hope,” he said. “I’m a Christian, and it’s the closest thing to Jesus I’ve seen in a long time.”

Smith said a family dining beside him noted that the man is a veteran.

He said that he is glad people are seeing the humble action the employee took, adding that we should help one another no matter race or age.