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West Virginia Strengthens Its Reputation As A National Education Leader

January 04, 2006

Charleston, W.Va – West Virginia has done it again! West Virginia schools have received top honors for three consecutive years in the Quality Counts report, a national report card on public education in the 50 states. According to the just released Quality Counts 2006, the state’s cumulative average in standards and accountability, teacher quality, school climate, equity and spending ranks West Virginia second in the nation.  

West Virginia is one of 11 states that earned an A for standards and accountability this year. According to Quality Counts, West Virginia performed especially well on the standards and assessment indicators. In all of the core subject areas and at nearly all grade spans, West Virginia has academic standards rated clear and specific by the American Federation of Teachers and assessments aligned to those standards. The state also fared well on school accountability measures, both sanctioning and providing assistance to all of its low-performing schools.  

“It is a great honor to be recognized on a national level for our accomplishments,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine. “But the West Virginia Board of Education (WVBOE) and West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) didn’t do it alone. Cooperation with the Governor’s Office, legislative leaders like Senate Education Committee Chair Bob Plymale and House Education Committee Chair Tom Campbell, teachers, principals and county school administrators made this possible and deserve a pat on the back as well.” West Virginia received an above average grade in teacher quality earning a B. One of only 15 states to require and finance mentoring for new teachers, West Virginia earned full credit in the area of professional support and training of teachers.  

Recently, the WVBOE supported a fully funded one-year mentoring program for new teachers; adopted a framework for alternative routes to teacher certification; required basic skills tests and subject matter exams for traditional teacher candidates; and supported classroom observation by state trained assessors. West Virginia scored at the national average in school climate by earning a C+. The state did very well on measures of facilities and school and class size, earning full credit in those areas. But according to Quality Counts, the state did not fair as well in school choice and autonomy for having a limited open-enrollment program and lacking a charter school law.  

West Virginia ranked among the leading states in resource equity. West Virginia placed 1st in the nation in equity of funding for school districts in the state, indicating a low level of disparity in per-pupil funding across school systems. “While receiving national recognition for our educational efforts is cause for celebration, we also know that we still have work to do,” noted Paine. “The WVBOE and the WVDE have never determined its educational goals and/or standards based on national reports. Instead, we do what is best for our students. We will continue our course … reaching for quality in equity and ensuring that our students have acquired 21st Century Learning Skills before they leave the classroom.”  

Quality Counts is published by Education Week, a weekly education magazine distributed nationwide. Quality Counts 2006, the 10th annual report, focused on where states have made progress during the past decade and where improvements are still needed.  

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