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.

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Missing New York man found in Dayton

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 7:54 PM

Alan Profitt
Alan Profitt

UPDATE @ 9:15 a.m. (April 20)

According to the Dayton Police Department one of their officers was able to locate New York man, Alan Profitt. He was reported safe and the NYPD has been notified. 

EARLIER REPORT: 

The New York City Police Department is asking for help to find a missing man who may be in the Dayton area.

Alan Profitt, 51, has been missing since September 2017 from Queens, N.Y., and police there believe he may have returned to Dayton.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is urged to call Miami Valley Crime Stoppers, 937-222-STOP(7867) or NYPD detective Frank Acosta at 212-694-7781.

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com

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'National School Walkout’: Everything you need to know about Friday’s event

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 9:52 AM

The Worst School Shootings in US History

Thousands of students across the country are set to walk out of class on Friday, the 19th anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado.

More than 2,500 groups have signed up for the “National School Walkout,” a student-led protest aimed at bolstering the discussion about gun-control measures.

>> Read more trending news

Lane Murdock, a high school sophomore who started a Change.org petition suggesting the walkout, said keeping the momentum of the national “March for Our Lives” movement strong was important to her and that, “Our generation is demanding change and won't be ignored or swept under the rug." 

March for Our Lives grew out of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen people died in the Feb. 14 shooting.

Murdock told National Public Radio that the protest is “not conservative or liberal. It is just about making sure our children don't get harmed in school and we don't live in a community and in a country that has institutionalized fear. I think we're all sick of it. That's why we're doing this."

Murdock goes to a Connecticut high school about 20 minutes away from where Sandy Hook Elementary School once stood. The Newtown, Connecticut, school was the site of a mass shooting in 2012 where 26 people – mostly 6- and 7-year-old children – were killed.

Here’s what you need to know about Friday’s National School Walkout.

When is the National School Walkout?

The walkout is set for Friday and starts at 10 a.m.

What is the walkout about?

Students are protesting “congressional, state, and local failures to take action to prevent gun violence,” according to the National School Walkout website. They are asking lawmakers to support:

  • Legislation to strengthen background checks.
  • Legislation to allow family members to request the issuance of a gun violence prevention warrant for those they fear may pose a danger to themselves or others. 
  • Bans on bump stocks.
  • Raising minimum age to 21 to buy an assault rifle like the AR-15.

What will happen?

Students across the country will walk out of their schools at 10 a.m. local time and pause for 13 seconds of silence – one second for everyone killed at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999.

After that, organizers are encouraging students not to go back to school, but to stay out the entire day. They are telling students to hold rallies and letter-writing campaigns or other activities around the day.

How do you participate?

Since organizers are suggesting that students walkout of school for the day, the event is geared more toward high school students. More than 2,500 schools in the United States have registered their intention to participate in the walkout. Not all groups registered are high schools. 

Organizers have compiled a guide with suggestions for activities and a link to resources including legal rights and safety tips.

FILE - In this Oct. 4, 2017, file photo, shooting instructor Frankie McRae demonstrates the grip on an AR-15 rifle fitted with a "bump stock" at his 37 PSR Gun Club in Bunnlevel, N.C. The largest manufacturer of bump stocks, which allow semi-automatic weapons to fire rapidly like automatic firearms, announced Wednesday, April 18, 2018, that it will stop taking orders and shut down its website next month. (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed, File)(Allen G. Breed/AP)

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OVI checkpoint TONIGHT in Butler County

Published: Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 9:14 AM

5 things to know about OVI checkpoints

An OVI checkpoint will be set up tonight, April 20, starting at 11 p.m. in Fairfield.

The checkpoint will be located in the northbound lanes Ohio 4, specifically at 4400 Dixie Highway just north of Symmes Road.

MORE: Hamilton driver admits guilt in pedestrian strike that killed teen

Vehicles are scheduled to be checked until no later than 3 a.m., according to the Butler County OVI Task Force, which will be conducting the checkpoint.

The checkpoint will be combined with additional police patrols in the area.

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Dayton school aide fired over sex abuse claim sues, calls report false

Published: Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 5:00 AM

Ajilon Harmon sued DPS in civil court.

Former classroom aide Ajilon Harmon has sued Dayton Public Schools, two former DPS employees and the man who accused him of sexual assault, 11 months after the school district fired Harmon about that claim of sexually abusing a student in 1990.

Harmon’s lawsuit in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court names as defendants the school board, former superintendent Rhonda Corr, former DPS safety director Jamie Bullens, and the former student who years later accused Harmon of abuse.

MAY 2017: School board votes to fire Harmon over abuse claim

Harmon argues the man’s allegations were false and that DPS officials should have known that. This news organization is not naming the accuser, based on its policy for victims of alleged sexual abuse.

Harmon’s claims in the lawsuit include racial discrimination, breach of contract and defamation. He is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, and he has requested a jury trial.

Current DPS Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said this week she could not comment on the lawsuit. Bullens also declined comment, while Corr and Harmon’s accuser could not immediately be reached.

MARCH 2017: Harmon on leave over allegation of decades-old abuse

The former student, now in his 40s, first told DPS officials and Dayton police in 2007 that Harmon had supplied him alcohol, photographed him nude, then sexually assaulted him at his home in 1990. No action was taken at the time by police or school officials. Harmon’s lawsuit claims both groups said the allegations weren’t credible.

Dayton’s school board voted to fire Ajilon Harmon on May 24, 2017.(Staff Writer)

In January 2016, the accuser allegedly assaulted Harmon when he saw him at a DPS sporting event. Questioned about that incident, the man repeated his allegations of years-old abuse by Harmon. Shortly after that, DPS placed Harmon on administrative leave from his job as a paraprofessional at Longfellow School.

DPS’ internal investigation, run by Bullens, found that the former student was “credible and truthful” about the abuse claim.

RELATED: DPS aide Murphy sentenced for felony sex charge

Harmon’s lawsuit accuses Bullens of “intentionally conducting a fraudulent, sham investigation” and compiling a report containing “false and scandalous allegations” against Harmon.

The lawsuit says DPS never contacted Harmon to get his account of the case during the 13 months that he was on administrative leave. It also says that his accuser defamed him at Harmon’s April 2017 hearing before DPS officials, saying the accuser knew the allegations he made that day (and previously) were false.

Dayton’s school board voted to fire Harmon on May 24, 2017. In his lawsuit, Harmon claims DPS was guilty of pervasive harassment and discrimination against him based on his race, saying DPS treated “similarly situated non-minority employees more favorably” than they treated him.

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