County reading, math scores below state level

by Kate Evans

West Virginia public school districts   recently received their West Virginia Balanced Scorecard accountability ratings from the West Virginia Department of Education for the 2018-2019 school year.

The Balanced Scorecards indicate how well students are learning, growing and achieving and show areas where schools are doing well and need improvement.

Morgan County Schools did well in attendance (94.99%), exceeded standards in behavior and exceeded or met 4-year and 5-year graduation rates (96.76% and 93.65% respectively.) Individual Morgan County Schools either did not meet standards or partially met standards in academic performance and academic growth.

More than half the state school districts improved their scorecard points in English Language Arts and math, according to a state Department of Education press release. State School Superintendent Dr. Steven Paine was pleased to see some of the state’s most challenged schools make improvements, but said that the state must do better.

Paine was concerned that 38% of state schools didn’t meet attendance standards.

State assessment exam proficiency averages for each public school and county were also posted on the state education department’s website ZoomWV data dashboard. Balanced Scorecard and test results can be found at the Department of Education website at https://wvde.us/.

Areas of evaluation

School districts are measured by academic performance in English language arts and math on the state exam, English Language Learners proficiency progress, graduation rates and student success, which includes attendance, behavior, on-track to graduation and post-secondary achievement.

Elementary and middle schools were also measured in student growth and academic progress in English Language Arts and math during the school year.

Student success

Elementary and middle school student success is measured by attendance, which is based on the percentage of students present for 90% of instructional days in the school year, and behavior as indicated by the percentage of students with no out-of-school suspensions.

High school student success is   measured by attendance, 4-year and 5-year cohort graduation rates, the percentage of 10th graders being on-track to graduation with the required number of credits and 12th graders’ post-secondary achievement data like Advanced Placement (AP) course participation and AP test scores, dual credit course enrollment and numbers of Career Technical Education program completers.

Morgan County

Berkeley Springs High School, Paw Paw High School and Warm Springs Middle School partially met standards in English language arts, while Paw Paw Elementary, Pleasant View Elementary and Warm Springs Intermediate School did not.

Pleasant View Elementary and the intermediate school partially met standards in math, while both high schools, Paw Paw Elementary and the middle school didn’t meet math standards.

Paw Paw Elementary, Pleasant View Elementary and Warm Springs Middle School partially met the benchmark growth indicator for English/language arts, but Warm Springs Intermediate School did not. Paw Paw Elementary, the intermediate school and the middle school didn’t meet the benchmark growth indicator for math.

Graduation rate, other

Berkeley Springs High School exceeded standards state standards for their 4-year graduation rate and met standards for their 5-year graduation rate in 2018-while Paw Paw High School exceeded standards with their 5-year cohort graduation rate. Their 4-year graduation rate was too small a cell to be reported.

Berkeley Springs High School didn’t meet standards for post-secondary achievement, but partially met standards for being on track for graduation.

Paw Paw High School’s cell size for both indicators was less than the required minimum of 20 students, as was every county schools’ English Language Learner proficiency progress cell.

Attendance, behavior

Paw Paw High School exceeded attendance standards, while Paw Paw Elementary and Pleasant View Elementary met attendance standards.   Berkeley Springs High School, Warm Springs Middle School and Warm Springs Intermediate School   partially met attendance standards.

Warm Springs Intermediate School, Warm Springs Middle School and Pleasant View Elementary exceeded state behavior standards, while Paw Paw Elementary met the standards.

Test scores

Most Morgan County schools declined very slightly in student reading proficiency except for Paw Paw High School, which increased more than 12 points in reading and Warm Springs Intermediate School whose proficiency rose less than a point.

Percentages are based on students’ proficiencies as measured by the 2019 and 2018 West Virginia General Summative Assessment (WVGSA), the West Virginia Alternate Summative Assessment and the SAT state standardized test for juniors. Grades 3-8 and 11 are tested in English language arts and math on the state assessment exams.

Warm Springs Intermediate School increased nearly 3% in math proficiency, while Paw Paw Elementary dropped around 10% in math proficiency and Warm Springs Middle School, Paw Paw High School and Pleasant View Elementary fell 5%. Berkeley Springs High School math scores rose less than a point.

Morgan County’s reading proficiency average declined from 38.13% on the 2018 state assessment exams to 36.68% in 2019.   The county’s average math proficiency dipped from 31.17% in 2018 to 29.09% in 2019.

The Morgan County Schools Balanced Scorecard is color-coded in each area of accountability measured. Green means exceeds standards, blue-meets standards, yellow-partially meets standards and red-does not meet standards. An added checkmark indicates schools met their annual target in that area. The color gray indicates the cell size is below the minimum size of 20 students required for reporting. New this year to the scorecard is the area of color in each indicator box shows its proximity to the next level.

Superintendent comments

School Superintendent Kristen Tuttle said   most county schools held steady in their test scores-they grew a little or fell a little. Tuttle said bright spots in the proficiency data included third and eighth grade reading. English language arts proficiency for third grade went up 10 points from the previous year, eighth grade increased 5% and sixth grade rose 3%. County school attendance was also higher than the state.

Major focuses

Tuttle said the big focus this year is improving school climate and culture and building relationships between students and staff and amongst staff. If schools have a more positive, supportive and nurturing climate, kids and staff will be happy and will perform better.

Another major focus is teaching and learning including increasing rigor and engagement in classrooms, making the best use of instructional time and focusing on quality lessons, Tuttle said. Continuous improvement and student improvement are the goal.

Grades k-5 are working on their math facts with flash cards and academic competitions are being considered. Kids also need to read and write more and schools need to engage parents, Tuttle said.

“We need their help and support,” she said of parents.

Tuttle was disappointed in the test scores and said she wants to see better results next year. She’s challenging everyone to be better.

“We’re better than what our data is showing. We can do better as a county,” Tuttle said.

“We have some work to do,” Tuttle told school board members at her October 1 Morgan County Balanced Scorecard presentation.

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