All Students Count by Dr. Steven Paine

Posted: April 25, 2006
As state superintendent of schools it is important that I address recent news published on a statewide level that reported West Virginia does not count its African American student test scores under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation. West Virginia counts ALL STUDENTS in the ALL SUBGROUP.  

First, African American students, as well as all other sub groups; i.e. low socio-economic, limited English speaking students, special education students, are all counted within the ALL sub-group. The ALL sub-group includes ALL STUDENTS, and it is always used to determine if a school meets Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).  

Second, individualized data is compiled for EVERY student and reported to parents, teachers, principals and county officials, and is utilized in the classroom on a daily basis to make decisions to improve student achievement. West Virginia tested 99% of all students and 99.7% of the minority student group on the WESTEST.  

Third, a student group with less than 50 students is not used in calculating AYP because any number fewer than 50 may not be statistically reliable. (This procedure was approved by the USDOE and is utilized in other states.) While a student group may have less than 50 students at the school level, there are generally more than 50 students on the county and state levels, therefore that information is sent to the federal government.  

There are many problems with the NCLB Act, but suffice it to say NCLB establishes a minimum standard by which to measure school performance. West Virginia is committed to going far beyond the minimum requirements of NCLB, but at the same time institute measures that restrict, where possible, the misidentification of schools because of limited numbers of students in any sub-group.  

Not only does West Virginia identify each student’s achievement level, the state is actually addressing the problem.  

West Virginia has just published a comprehensive report on Closing the Achievement Gap for all students. It is a major document that looks at all assessment data: WESTEST, ACT EXPLORE & PLAN, ACT, SAT, and NAEP as well as impact data: advanced placement course enrollment, attendance rate, dropout rate, graduation rate, college going rate and evaluation data related to programs and services designed to improve student achievement. (I might note the assessment report reviews data based on performance of sub-groups with at least 10 students or more.) The Report makes findings and recommendations for what needs to be done to close the achievement gap. The West Virginia Department of Education’s (WVDE) implementation of recommendations will result in improved student achievement for ALL STUDENTS.  

Identifying that West Virginia, like all states, needs to close the achievement gap for minority students, as well as low socio-economic students, special needs students and the new emerging gap between how and what students are currently learning in the classroom and the skills students need to complete on a global level is only the first step.  

What is most important is what West Virginia is doing to implement policy, programs and practices to close the achievement gap for ALL STUDENTS. You do not improve student achievement in Washington, D.C. The WVDE provides individual student and school results….You improve student achievement in West Virginia by working with teachers, parents and schools to review individual assessment data, and to assess daily progress through classroom measures and then determine what instructional programs/practices need to be in place.  

We all acknowledge we have an achievement gap…NCLB, even with its limitations, exceptions and flaws identifies the problem…Again, what is most important is what we are doing…  

Let’s talk about what West Virginia is doing to close the achievement gap:  

Establishing Universal Pre-K with all deliberate speed  

Establishing research-based proven successful programs/policies to insure all children have basic skills by the end of third grade;  

Increasing the rigor of curriculum;  

Implementing recommendations of High School Task Force;  

Designing a comprehensive technology plan to support equity of technology, hardware, software & on-line courses to all students and teachers;  

Implementing a new assessment system that will:  

-Offer professional development that supports all teachers in the instructional process to support increased student achievement;  

-Expect all students to take predictive and college admission assessments prior to graduation; and  

-Provide classrooms assessment to daily measure progress of students;  

Becoming the 2nd state in the nation to join the 21st Century Partnership Initiative with the Governor, Legislature, education organizations, business and community leaders to insure the necessary resources and support to secure:  

-Implementation 21st century skills, content and instruction within the course curriculum  

Closing the Achievement Gap for ALL STUDENTS, black, white, poor, non-English speaking, special education, is all about what we do. It is not about the poorly constructed requirements of NCLB…it is about the action we take to make a difference for ALL STUDENTS to be productive citizens in a global world.  

 

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