County schools show
It's not just students who wait anxiously for their report cards. School administrators have to face their own evaluations when the annual West Virginia Educational Standards Test (WESTEST) scores come back from the state's Department of Education.
Morgan County's Director of Testing Terry Riley gave school board members a crash course in how to read the county's report card at their board meeting on September 4.
Students in grades 3-8 and 10th grade in the county's eight schools were tested last May in math, reading, science and social studies.
The good news is that most schools have met the state's requirements for an Adequate Yearly Progress designation.
The bad news is that two of the county's schools didn't meet all of their marks.
The failing grades applied to reading and math scores for special education students at Warm Springs Middle and Interme-diate Schools.
Riley explained that students' scores fell short of the state's standards for the second year in a row, though students have made improvements in several areas.
School officials in Morgan County see some of the state's testing methods as hurdles for achieving Adequate Yearly Progress.
When students with disabilities take their WESTEST, only some of their scores count. A small school like Greenwood Elementary won't have their students' test scores tabulated in the school's overall performance.
Only schools with 50 or more disabled students – like Warm Springs Intermediate and Middle Schools—will be held to the state's score standards in those areas.
"We know the kids are improving, but unfortunately that's not what scores show," Riley said.
"Even small counties that met standards last year didn't make it this year," said Riley. "Special education scores will continue to be the bane of these schools."
A moving target
WESTEST scores show what percentage of students have met the state's score goals in each grade and each subject. As Riley explained, those goals increase each year or two. So while some of Morgan County school scores rose, the target also went up in the same year.
According to a chart of the state's Annual Measurable Objectives, the target will move for schools again in 2010. Elementary and high school students will be expected to show 81% proficiency in reading, up from 76-77% this year.
Math targets will increase to 78% for elementary students, 76% for middle schoolers and 73% for high school students – all up at least 6% points from this year.
State standards continue to rise incrementally, with an aim of having all students achieve 100% mastery of subjects by 2014 under No Child Left Behind, the federal government's educational program.
"The closer we get, the more schools are going to fail," Riley told school board members.
Terry Riley said only three counties in West Virginia met the state's standards for all subgroups in all schools.
"It's important to point out that if a school is identified as not meeting Adequate Yearly Progress, the status should not reflect on the teachers or students," said Superintendent David Banks in a press release about the county's test scores.
"A school can be identified for a variety of reasons and we will work as a team to do whatever it takes to improve," said Banks.
General proficiency scores
Greenwood Elementary: 68.57% in Math, 77.14% in Reading/Language Arts.
Paw Paw Elementary: 67.14% in Math, 67.14% in Reading.
Pleasant View Elementary: 91.42% in Math, 82.85% in Reading/Language Arts.
Warm Springs Intermediate: 78.82% in Math, 76.94% in Reading/Language Arts.
Warm Springs Middle: 73.44% in Math, 81.10% in Reading/Language Arts.
Berkeley Springs High School: 71.85% in Math, 68.26% in Reading/Language Arts.
Paw Paw High School: 58.33% in Math, 75% in Reading/Language Arts.