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WESTEST 2 Gauges More Rigorous Learning in Classrooms Statewide

May 17, 2010

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Making sure children get a good night’s sleep and a nutritious breakfast takes on new importance this week as schools statewide participate in the West Virginia Educational Standards Test 2 (WESTEST 2).
The state assessment will be administered Monday through Friday to students in grades 3 through 11 in all 55 counties. Next week, May 24 through May 28, has been set aside for make-up tests. WESTEST 2 is used to evaluate student knowledge and skills in math, reading/language arts, science and social studies. Results also are used to determine if schools meet federal requirements under the No Child Left Behind Act.
"Measuring learning is an integral part of the instructional process as we work to narrow the gap between the knowledge and skills students learn in school and the knowledge and skills they need in the 21st century," said state Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine. "WESTEST 2 will help us better target problem areas to focus on improving student learning.”
WESTEST 2 reflects more rigorous state standards that were adopted to ensure West Virginia students are competitive when they graduate from high school whether they choose to go to college or enter the work force. In addition, increased rigor means that the level of knowledge students now must demonstrate to reach mastery also has increased. In 2010, instructional content and tests have more problem-solving, more technology, more communication, more use of charts and data, and require students to be able to analyze and synthesize to draw conclusions. 
“West Virginia has worked hard to improve the quality and the rigor of what we teach and how we teach it to make it more like the 21st century world in which our kids live and operate,” said Jan Barth with the Office of Assessment, Accountability and Research.
The decision to increase the rigor of state standards came after officials recognized West Virginia students were not as well prepared to compete in a global economy as they should be.

"Workers today need to be very creative and innovative," Paine said. "Our students must be prepared to enter a work force where they will be required to quickly process new information and work collaboratively. As a state and a nation, we can remain competitive only if we teach our kids, our prospective employees, how to think critically and solve problems in real-world settings."
Previous student achievement tests only measured certain skills, such as memorization of facts, while WESTEST 2 requires students to apply what they have learned in the classroom, Barth said.
"Students are the ones who ultimately will benefit from the more rigorous assessment," Barth said. "When you look at our test items, you will see that we have taken steps to allow students to focus their thinking. When kids are taught to a higher level of understanding, we must be able to assess that higher knowledge. WESTEST 2 does that."
For more information, contact the West Virginia Department of Education's Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699.

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