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Focus Schools Spotlight Learning Gaps Among Student Groups

June 19, 2013

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Board of Education has identified a list of schools in the state with the greatest learning gaps among student groups. These schools will get additional support to meet the needs of their students.

Ninety-seven schools have been identified in 39 West Virginia counties. Elementary and middle schools were identified based on 2012 WESTEST 2 results. High schools were identified based on gaps in graduation rates. A list of focus schools can be found at: http://wvde.state.wv.us/esea/priority-focus-schools.html.

The focus school designation is part of West Virginia's ESEA Flexibility Waiver, which includes waivers of certain provisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as the No Child Left Behind Act.

"This is a whole new ballgame for the student achievement accountability process in West Virginia," said state Superintendent of Schools Jim Phares. "You will notice that some schools on this list are traditionally the MVPs of the system and they are still good schools. However, now it is not just about the number of students meeting proficiency levels but instead how large of a learning gap exists between student groups."

To provide support to focus schools, a Focus Assistance Support Team (FAST) will be created on the state, regional and county levels. The FAST teams will then conduct an assessment of student subgroup strengths and weaknesses to target during the three-year improvement timeline. If a focus school can decrease the gap between student subgroups for two consecutive years and show sufficient progress, it can be transitioned off the list.

In April, the West Virginia Board of Education identified a list of priority schools. Priority schools also are part of West Virginia's ESEA Flexibility. However, these schools were identified based on overall student performance. The schools are among the lowest 5 percent of Title I schools based on school-wide student achievement and a historical lack of progress over three years. All non-Title I schools meeting the same criteria have been identified and are included in the priority schools.

For more information, contact the Office of Communication at 304-558-2699.

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