by Kate Evans Morgan County Schools students overall fared slightly better than in the previous year on the 2022 West Virginia General Summative Assessment exams that they took in May. Reading and math proficiencies rose in most county schools. The test results show overall student learning progress and ongoing recovery in student achievement from the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Morgan County Schools Special Education and Assessment Director Nicole Hiles did a presentation on the state assessment exams proficiencies at the September 6 Morgan County School Board meeting. Hiles presented three-year proficiency averages for all Morgan County Schools in reading, science and math, also showing pre-pandemic test proficiencies. Morgan County average student reading proficiencies on the 2022 tests were 37.03%, up 4.88% from 32.15% on the 2021 exams. Average Morgan County math proficiencies rose 3.94% from 22.18% on the 2021 tests to 26.12% on the 2022 exams. Science proficiencies increased 1.58% from 25.13% in 2021 to 26.71% on the 2022 exams. Assessments Assessments for state public school students include the West Virginia General Summative Assessments (WVGSA) for grades three-eight (reading, math and writing), the SAT School Day exams for grade 11 (reading and math) and the West Virginia Alternate Summative Assessment (ASA) for special needs students in grades three-eight and grade 11 (reading, writing and math.) Science exams were also taken by grades five and eight. Students must be enrolled in the school system for more than 135 days to take the exams, Hiles said. County vs state rankings West Virginia public school average proficiencies on the state assessment exams were 41.83% in reading proficiency (Morgan County-37.03%), 32.69% in math proficiency (Morgan County-26.12%) and 27.71 in science. (Morgan County-26.71) Morgan County Schools state rankings rose 14 places to 34th in the state in reading and jumped 14 places to 21st in the state in science, Hiles said. The county declined two places to 40th in the state in math. Mixed county results Berkeley Springs High School juniors achieved 53% proficiency in English/language arts on the May assessment exams, up slightly from 51.79% in 2021. However, math proficiencies dropped almost 10 points from 2021 to 2022. Science proficiency increased six points. Warm Springs Intermediate School rose 11 points in reading proficiency, eight points in math and five points in science from 2021 to 2022. Warm Springs Middle School increased five points in math proficiency and rose two points in reading and one point in science. Paw Paw High School rose three points in reading and five points in math. The school didn’t have enough kids to report the science test scores, Hiles said. Paw Paw Elementary increased 17% in math proficiency and decreased 2% in reading. Science proficiency fell 37%. Pleasant View Elementary decreased 13% in math proficiency, three percent in reading and seven percent in science. County juniors scored a total of 935 on the state SAT School Day exam, some 20 points higher than the state average total of 915, Hiles said. Successes Berkeley Springs High School’s grade 11 nailed it in English language arts, Hiles said. Warm Springs Intermediate School had positive growth in reading, math and science, with 11% proficiency growth in English/language arts. Third grade knocked it out of the park with 49% proficiency in math, she said. Fourth and sixth grades increased reading and math proficiencies. Paw Paw Elementary increased math proficiency by 17%. Reading, math and science proficiencies were at or above pre-pandemic levels. Science proficiency rose for the first time since 2018, Hiles noted. Reading had the largest proficiency increase countywide. Math scores went up nearly four points. Strategies for improvement Strategies for intervention and improvement are ongoing and include professional staff development. Hiles said that teachers were trained in the Capturing Kids’ Hearts program. Its focus includes strengthening the bond between students and teachers, improving school culture and fostering trauma-informed care. New benchmark programs (IXL and HMH) are being used and Read 180, Systems 44 and Reflex Math for fluency have been implemented. The writing program is being reviewed along with state testing benchmark practices. Academic, technology and special education/behavioral coaches are key to filling in gaps in student achievement, she said. State assessment exam reports were sent home to parents with students on Thursday, September 8. State PowerPoint resources are available to explain to parents the WVGSA, ASA and SAT School Day reports. Officials weigh in A press release from the West Virginia Board of Education regarding the state assessment results acknowledged some slight increases in proficiencies statewide and said that substantial improvement is needed. “We’ve got work to do. Some of these proficiency rates are not acceptable. We must get children back to higher levels of proficiency,” said West Virginia Board of Education President L. Paul Hardesty in an August 10 press release. Morgan County School Superintendent Kristen Tuttle said that she was happy with the overall increase in reading, math and science proficiencies, but agreed that there was more work to be done. Morgan County Schools improvement strategies include targeted interventions, academic coaches and interventionists, new programs, educational software and materials, online tutoring and after-school and summer programs. New benchmark testing will monitor student progress.