CHARLESTON, W.Va – West Virginia ranked sixth in the nation in Education Week’s Quality Counts 2008 based on ratings across six areas of performance and policy: Chance-for-Success; K-12 Achievement; Standards, Assessments, and Accountability; Transitions and Alignment; the Teaching Profession; and School Finance.
West Virginia’s overall grade was a B- in this year’s report which was released on Wednesday. West Virginia received an A in Standards, Assessment and Accountability. West Virginia was one of the highest performers in efforts to connect the K–12 education system with early learning, higher education and the world of work, receiving a B+ in Transitions and Alignment. West Virginia also received an A in the equity of spending on students.
“It doesn’t surprise me that our state ranking is so high,” said state Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine. “Since taking office, the governor has linked economic development and education. Quality Counts 2008 shows we are doing the right thing for West Virginia students.”
Quality Counts 2008 continues the cradle-to-career framework launched in last year’s report. The cradle-to-career perspective emphasizes the connections between PreK-12 education and state economic conditions, including such things as parental income levels and employment status. The report focused on indicators which extend beyond educational indictors to higher education, parents and economics. This is a more comprehensive, broad and true picture of West Virginia student progress from cradle to career.
Noting low marks in areas such as parent education, family income, preschool enrollment and adult education levels, West Virginia received a C- in the Chance-for-Success category.
The state performed better than the nation in the Teaching Profession category, receiving a C+. The report pointed out that teacher salaries are not equal to comparable occupations and parents are not notified if their child has an out-of-field teacher.
“Our recently published Teacher Shortage Taskforce Report focuses on several of the issues listed under the Teacher Profession category,” said Paine. “We believe that with the continued collaboration with the state Legislature and the Governor’s Office, West Virginia can improve the climate for teachers.”
Increasing teacher salaries topped the list of recommendation presented in the Teacher Shortage Taskforce Report. Other recommendations included launching a coordinated recruitment and retention campaign to attract and retain a qualified teacher work force; expanding certification of K-6 and K-8 elementary teachers; allowing all currently certified teachers to use the Praxis II exam to expand certification to other subject areas; allowing retirees to work as substitutes without losing their retirement benefits; providing financial incentives, such as loan forgiveness and signing bonuses, to teachers in critical shortage areas; improving working conditions; developing streamlined alternative routes to certification; and developing content institutes to prepare currently certified teachers in subject areas, such as math and science.
West Virginia received its lowest grade in the K-12 Achievement category based on National Assessment Education Progress (NAEP) scores. Quality Counts, in part, graded the state on past math and reading scores.
“Two years ago we recognized the urgency for change based on our NAEP scores,” added Paine. “Since that time we have increased the level of rigor of our Content Standards and Objectives (CSOs), aligning our curriculum with national and international standards. The new curriculum will be taught beginning in September 2008. Even though our vision for the future of education has heralded national recognition, we know we have much work to do; educational change will not occur overnight.”
This summer, the West Virginia Department of Education conducted several professional development sessions on the new CSOs with teachers and principals. But to reach all educators in the state West Virginia needs a professional development structure.
“Quality Counts 2008 identifies areas that cannot be corrected through education alone so our work with the Governor’s Office, higher education, legislators and the business community is paramount,” said West Virginia Board of Education President Delores W. Cook.
Education Week is a weekly education magazine distributed nationwide. For more information on Quality Counts 2008, contact Liza Cordeiro, West Virginia Department of Education Communications Office, at (304) 558-2699.