Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

May 14, 2014

Nation’s report card: More bad news for West Virginia

— — Few things in life are more important than the ability to read. And a love of reading can open many doors for our children. It is vital for our students to be skilled in reading proficiency. Unfortunately, a new national assessment has found that West Virginia students rank last in reading scores when measured with 13 other states. That’s unacceptable.

The report found that West Virginia high school seniors had the worst reading scores of students sampled in 13 states last year, and were tied for worst in math, the Associated Press found.

Not all of the news was bad. The national assessment, known as the nation’s report card, did find that test scores had improved in West Virginia in recent years. So there is a glimmer of hope to be found among the alarming statistics.

The average West Virginia math score was up four points from 2009 — one of only four states to show improvement over that period, along with Arkansas, Connecticut and Idaho. The state’s average reading score was also up, but just one point, which is not considered a significant difference in the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

The Mountain State tied Tennessee in terms of the worst math scores. And West Virginia’s last-place finish in reading was just behind Tennessee, but the margin is not considered significantly different.

“We are optimistic about the statistically significant increase in math but we remain concerned that we are trailing the nation,” Jim Phares, state superintendent of schools, told the AP last week.

We, too, are concerned. All steps must be taken to improve the reading proficiency levels of our students. We cannot continue to fall behind when it comes to the reading levels of students — particularly those of a high school age.

Phares says that the Department of Education, in conjunction with other state offices, has taken several steps aimed at boosting lagging student achievement, such as college transitional courses for seniors. But more steps should be taken to address this alarming lapse in reading proficiency levels.

By encouraging students to read at an early age, we are helping to prepare the youngsters for a much brighter future. And a love of reading will open many doors for the students as they progress through their school years, and later into adulthood. Children who read succeed in life. And high school seniors should certainly be expected to excel at reading proficiency.

Encouraging our children to read — every day — should be a priority for all parents, educators, concerned citizens and community leaders alike.

 

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