School bus

Staff photo by Eric DiNovo Students board a Mercer County School bus outside of Whitethorn Elementary School recently.

CHARLESTON — A recent survey of the state’s school systems shows that local county school systems did not meet some academic standards, according to scores tabulated by state education officials.

The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) recently unveiled West Virginia Schools Balanced Scorecard (Balanced Scorecard) results, which outline accountability ratings for each public school in the Mountain State as part of West Virginia’s School Accountability System (WVAS).

Each public school in the state received a scorecard that provides parents, students, educators and communities an annual update on multiple measures that together show how well students are learning, growing and achieving, according to a statement released Sept. 12 by the WVDE. The Balanced Scorecard is used to outline clear information on where schools are excelling and in what areas schools may need to improve.

“The Balanced Scorecard provides reliable data beyond the traditional measures giving us insight into how our schools are performing,” West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steven Paine said. “I see improvements that tell me we are on the right path, but we still must do better.” 

“We are pleased to see some of our most challenged schools making improvements and I believe with our combined effort we will continue to see this trend,” Paine stated.

Highlights from this year’s Balanced Scorecard, which is based on 2018-19 data include:

• 32 of 55 districts improved their scorecard points on ELA (English Language Arts) Performance.

• 34 of 55 districts improved their scorecard points on Math Performance.

• 22 of 55 districts improved on five or more indicators from the WV Balanced Scorecard.

• The percentage of schools that did not meet standard decreased in ELA by 1.2 percent and decreased in Math by 6 percent.

• The percentage of schools in the exceeds standards category within the Post-Secondary indicator increased by four percent and those schools in the did not meet standard decreased by 4.2 percent.

A major finding from the Balanced Scorecard surrounded attendance rates of students. More than 38 percent of schools did not meet the standard for attendance, WVDE officials said. Twenty percent of students statewide were chronically absent in 2018-19 meaning they missed 10 percent or more of the school year.

“Increases in absenteeism are a major concern because teachers cannot teach students who are not present in the classroom,” Paine said. “As we promote accountability and responsibility at the local level, we look forward to counties and local school boards working with us to address this problem. Coming to school regularly is half the battle for our students, and we must look at all aspects of our system, including county board involvement and family and community engagement, to change this tide.”

The system helps ensure parents have objective information on their students’ academic achievement, while empowering state and district leaders to identify struggling students and schools.

The Balanced Scorecard evaluates schools on the following indicators:

• Performance in English language arts and math – this indicator considers test scores from the annual statewide assessment in grades 3-8 and 11.

• Academic progress – this indicator measures student test score progress from year to year on annual statewide assessments in elementary and middle school.

• Four- and five-year cohort graduation rates – this indicator considers the percentage of students who graduate in four and five years at the high school level.

• English language learner progress – this indicator measures how well students who are learning English as a second language are progressing in their mastery of the English language in the four domains of speaking, reading, writing and listening.

• Student success – this indicator considers the percentage of elementary and middle school students with greater than 90% attendance and students with no out-of-school suspensions. At the high school level, this indicator considers students with greater than 90% attendance; number of credits earned by 10th graders; and, completion of CTE programs, Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate credits, and dual credit college courses among 12th graders.

Within each indicator, schools earn one of four performance levels: Exceeds Standard, Meets Standard, Partially Meets Standard or Does Not Meet Standard.

To view school results, visit www.mywvschool.org

Locally, school systems showed some improvement in academic areas, but fell short in categories like attendance. When looking at Mercer County Schools in the Academic Performance category, elementary schools were listed at Partially Meets Standard in the English Language Skills (ELA) and Mathematics. In the Academic Progress category, elementary schools were listed as Meets Standards in ELA and Partially Meets Standards in Mathematics.

The School Success category rates attendance and behavior. Mercer County’s elementary schools were listed as Partially Meets Standards in attendance and Exceeds Standards in behavior.

Middle schools were rated in the same categories. In Academic Performance, they were classified as Partially Meets Standards in both ELA and Mathematics. In Academic Progress, middle schools rates as Partially Meets Standards in ELA and Meets Standards in Mathematics. Middle schools were listed as Does Not Meet Standards in attendance and Partially Meets Standards in behavior.

In Mercer County’s high schools, the Academic Performance category showed Partially Meets Standard for ELA and Does Not Meet Standard for Mathematics. Unlike elementary and middle schools, high schools were measured in the Graduation Rate/Cohort category. High schools were listed as Meets Standards in 4-year graduation, and Partially Meets Standards in 5-year graduation. High schools were listed as Meets Standard in Post-Secondary Achievement.

McDowell County Schools were measured in the same categories. In Academic Performance, they were listed as Partially Meets Standards in ELA and Does Not Meet Standards in Mathematics. In Academic Progress, they were ranked as Partially Meets Standards in both ELA and Mathematics. The elementary schools were listed in the Student Success category as Does Not Meet Standards in attendance and Exceeds Standard in behavior.

In middle schools, McDowell County was listed in Academic Performance as Does Not Meet Standards in ELA and Mathematics. They were listed in Academic Progress as Partially Meets Standards in ELA and Mathematics.

The Student Success category showed Does Not Meet Standards in attendance and Partially Meets Standards in behavior.

In high schools, the Academic Performance category listed Does Not Meet Standards in ELA and Mathematics. In the Graduation Rate/Cohort category, the schools were listed as Meets Standards in the 4-year and Partially Meets Standards in the 5-year graduation rate.

The Student Success category showed McDowell County high schools as Does Not Meet Standards in attendance and on-track for graduation. In Post-Secondary Achievement, the schools were listed as Partially Meets Standards. 

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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