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.”

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1 injured when Jeep rams into house on South Bird Road in Clark County

Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 1:23 PM
Updated: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 1:36 PM

1 injured when Jeep rams into Clark County house

UPDATE @ 1:27 p.m.: One person has been taken to a hospital after a Jeep rammed into a house on South Bird Road, the Ohio State Highway Patrol said. 

According to the preliminary investigation, a female was driving north when she apparently lost control of the vehicle and rammed the front of the house, where the resident was asleep. 

OTHER LOCAL NEWS: New details in fatal wrong-way crash

That resident has been taken to Springfield Regional Medical Center, suffering from minor injuries. The driver was not injured, according to troopers. 

South Bird Road will be shut down at Laybourne Road in both directions until further notice.

INITIAL REPORT

Police, sheriff’s deputies, OSP and the gas company are on the scene of a car into a house in the 200 block of South Bird and Laybourne roads in Springfield Twp.

The incident occurred moments ago. Unknown on injuries.

We will update this developing report as we get information.

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

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Eva Longoria, husband Jose Bastón welcome baby boy

Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 10:38 AM

What You Need To Know: Eva Longoria

Actress Eva Longoria and her husband, media mogul José Bastón, welcomed their first child together Tuesday, June 19.

Giving the first photo of her son to HOLA! USA, the actress can be seen cradling Santiago Enrique Bastón. He was born at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles weighing 6 pounds and 13 ounces.

>> Read more trending news 

“We are so grateful for this beautiful blessing,” the couple told the publication.

Throughout her pregnancy, the 43-year-old actress stayed busy. Posts on her Instagram page show her at various events and working on multiple projects. During that time, she also got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and had to say goodbye to her beloved dog, Jinxy, June 14.

Longoria confirmed her pregnancy in December, when she was four months along.

Santiago is the first child for Longoria. Bastón, 50, president of Televisa, the largest media company in Latin America, has three children of his own from an earlier marriage.

Bastón and Longoria started dating in 2013 and married three years later in Valle de Bravo, Mexico.

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Spooky Nook developer gets millions in tax credits for Champion Mill rehab

Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 12:55 PM
Updated: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 4:13 PM


            The proposed Spooky Nook Sports at Champion Mill mega-sports complex could fill the old Champion Mill building along B Street in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
The proposed Spooky Nook Sports at Champion Mill mega-sports complex could fill the old Champion Mill building along B Street in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

A project expected to be the biggest driver of economic development in the region will get nearly $5 million in state tax credits.

The Ohio Development Services Agency awarded just under $4.7 million in Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit credits to Spooky Nook Sports for rehabilitation of the former paper mill in Hamilton.

The rehabilitation project will convert the huge industrial building at 600 N. B St. into a hotel and event center that will complement Spooky Nook’s planned indoor sports complex — Spooky Nook at Champion Mill, which is projected to create tens of millions of dollars in economic impact each year throughout Hamilton and the surrounding area.

MORE: Spooky Nook founder: No matter what funding occurs ‘we’re not walking away’ from Hamilton

Spooky Nook Sports at Champion Mill is expected to break ground along North B Street and the west shore of the Great Miami River later this year in advance of a 2020 opening. Total cost of the project is expected to exceed $48 million.

“The credit is very significant to the project,” said Mike Dollard, Spooky Nook’s chief financial officer. “It is doing exactly as the program was designed: to revitalize communities, stimulate economic growth, and fill in the financial gaps in these projects. We are grateful to the State of Ohio and the City of Hamilton for their support and vision.”

MORE: A sports complex coming to Hamilton had a massive impact in another state. Here’s what happened.

The capital stack supporting the project is nearly complete and Spooky Nook officials anticipate it wrapping up shortly, according to spokeswoman Mackenzie Bender.

“With the external remediation almost finished, we remain focused on a late summer start on additional site work,” Bender said.

Hamilton City Manager Joshua Smith said receiving the State of Ohio Historical Tax Credits was an important hurdle for moving the Spooky Nook mixed-use project forward.

“As any post-industrial city will confirm, repurposing industrial buildings that are functionally obsolete into a new use, while retaining huge components of the historic fabric, is a near-impossible task,” Smith said.

He credited Cleveland-based Sandvick Architects, Steve Coon of Historic Developers and the entire Spooky Nook team for working their way through the lengthy application process, which lasted for at least a year.

MORE: The massive Hamilton sports complex project could be game-changing. Especially for this neighborhood.

The final hurdle, he said, is confirming a $7 million allocation of New Markets Tax Credits, which along with historic tax credits, are crucial in projects where redevelopment costs exceed existing value.

“Hamilton continues to fight above our weight class,” Smith said. “It’s never one person or organization that continues to move us forward, but an all-out, maximum team effort.”

The Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program is administered in partnership with the Ohio History Connection’s State Historic Preservation Office. The State Historic Preservation Office determines if a property qualifies as a historic building and that the rehabilitation plans comply with the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.

The tax credits for the Champion Mill site are part of $30,228,955 in Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits announced Wednesday for the rehabilitation of 31 historic buildings.

MORE: A huge new project wouldn’t just help Hamilton. The sports center’s impact would reverberate for miles.

Together, the projects are expected to leverage approximately $348 million in private investment in 13 communities. The awards bring the total number of Ohio communities with historic preservation tax credit projects to 67.

“An old building can be a blemish or a promise for the future,” said David Goodman, director of the Ohio Development Services Agency. “These communities have chosen an economic boost for the future.”

Champion Paper No. 2 Mill was one of several buildings associated with Champion Paper’s operations in Hamilton.

The mill, once the largest coated-paper mill in the world, operated for more than 100 years as one of the city’s largest employers, before International Paper acquired all Champion International assets and assumed ownership of the Hamilton plant and its 800 employees in 2000.

International announced the sale of the local mill to a Florida merchant banking firm, Smart Papers, in January 2001 and Smart Papers wound down operations at the site in 2012.

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UPDATE: Gun powder in homemade bottle bomb found along MetroPark bike path

Published: Tuesday, June 19, 2018 @ 12:59 PM
Updated: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 3:54 PM

MetroParks rangers are investigating after a homemade bottle bomb was found along a bike path in the Island MetroPark Tuesday morning.

UPDATE @ 3:55 p.m. (June 20): Red Dot gun powder has been identified by Dayton Bomb Squad members as the substance in the bottle bomb found Tuesday, said Mark Hess, Five Rivers MetroParks public safety chief.

Investigators have no additional information or suspects, Hess said.

Alliant Red Dot gun powder is the brand name for a smokeless powder used primarily for light and standard 12 gauge target loads, but can be used in some handgun loads, according to midwayusa.com (Midway Arms, Inc.)

INITIAL REPORT (June 19)

MetroParks rangers are investigating after a homemade bottle bomb was found along a bike path in the Island MetroPark Tuesday morning. 

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Rangers responded to the bike path near Kettering Field about 11 a.m. after a park technician found the device during a routine patrol, said Lt. Mark Arendt, Five Rivers MetroParks, Ranger Division. 

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The device was found partially burned and was apparently filled with a black powder, Arendt said. 

Marshall Gorby/Staff

Rangers were not sure how long the bottle was there or when it was initially detonated. 

“It’s a very dangerous situation,” Arendt said. “We wouldn’t want someone to stumble upon this and get hurt. Or we wouldn’t want the person actually messing around with this device to get hurt either.” 

The bottle and powder will be analyzed to determine what the device actually contained, Arendt said. 

No injuries were reported. 

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