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West Virginia Schools and Students Outperforming Counterparts Across the Nation

January 14, 2010

CHARLESTON, W.Va – West Virginia schools and students are toppings the charts, according to Education Week’s Quality Counts 2010: Fresh Course, Swift Current- Momentum and Challenges in the New Surge toward Common Standards.  West Virginia made it onto the Top 10 list with an overall grade of B-. The nation received only a C.

Quality Counts 2010 is the 14th edition of Education Week’s series of annual report cards tracking state education policies and outcomes. In addition to placing a special focus on the national debate over common academic standards, this year’s report focused on four areas: Chance-for-Success; Teaching Profession; Standards, Assessments and Accountability; and School Finance.

Quality Counts 2010 gives our state a good snapshot of how we compare to other states,” said state Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine. “The governor, the Legislature, the state Board of Education, students, teachers and West Virginia Department of Education staff have worked very hard all year. While we still have work to do, this year’s report is positive reinforcement that we are heading in the right direction with our Global21 vision.” http://global21wv.com

West Virginia outperformed every other state on the Standards, Assessment and Accountability section of Quality Counts, receiving a nearly perfect score of 98.3. The category looked at whether state standards are course- or grade-specific; whether the state has supplementary resources or guides for educators that elaborate on official academic-standards documents; the types of test items used to measure student performance; and whether schools are accountable for student performance.

The Teaching Profession section focused on 44 indicators to assess key aspects of state teacher policy, including how to account for teacher quality, provide incentive for teachers, and recruit and retain a strong teaching work force. West Virginia received a B in this category, outperforming the national score of C and ranking the state seventh in the nation.

The School Finance category focused on eight commonly used measures of equity and spending, including areas such as per-pupil expenditures, percent of state taxable resources used on k-12 education, and the relationship between district funding and local property wealth. West Virginia received a C+ in this category, outperforming the nation’s score of C. According to Education Week, West Virginia spends an average of $11,488 per child in the public school system.

To fully understand the role education plays throughout a lifetime, Education Week developed the Chance-for-Success Index. The index combines information from 13 indications that span from cradle to career. The Chance-for-Success category allows states to identify concerns outside of the educational structure such as family income, parental employment and parental level of education.

Noting low marks in areas such as parent education level, family income and the number of residents who have acquired a two- or four-year postsecondary degree, West Virginia received a C- in the Chance-for-Success category.

Quality Counts 2010 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 Priscilla Haden.

Quality Counts 2010 also used West Virginia’s National Assessment Education Progress (NAEP) scores on math and reading assessments for fourth and eighth graders in determining Chance-for-Success scores.

“Four years ago we recognized the urgency for change based on our NAEP scores,” Paine said. “The need to change from a 20th century school system to a 21st century more rigorous and globally competitive school system that will provide students with the skills needed to meet or exceed national education standards was apparent.  Since that time, we, with the involvement of the education community, have made a substantial number of changes to meet the needs of today’s students.”

These changes include:

  • Increased level of rigor of Content Standards and Objectives (CSOs)
  • Aligned curriculum with national and international standards
  • Increased graduation requirements
  • Increased availability of pre-k programs
  • Established RTI (early intervention model) to increase literacy skill success
  • Established learning skills (communication, critical thinking and personal/workplace skills) and technology skills as an integral part of the curriculum for all students
  • Established a network of electronic resources to support 21st century instruction (Teach 21: http://wvde.state.wv.us/teach21/)
  • Redesigned assessments to align with more rigorous and relevant CSOs

“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,” Paine said.

Education Week is a weekly education magazine distributed nationwide.  For more information on Quality Counts 2010, contact Liza Cordeiro, West Virginia Department of Education Communications Office, at (304) 558-2699.

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