"The state of education in West Virginia is good and there are numerous facts to support this assertion," Dr. Marockie said during his "State of the Schools" address on Wednesday, August 4. "West Virginia continues to be ranked first in the only comprehensive national ranking of states, the ‘Quality Counts' report by Education Week magazine. We've achieved this ranking for three straight years. In addition, 1999 basic skills test scores improved significantly in every grade compared with 1998 scores."
Dr. Marockie said that 48 of 55 counties -- 87 percent -- scored at or above the 50th percentile on the Stanford Achievement Test at all grade levels, and two additional counties had only one grade level below the 50th percentile.
"West Virginia's students are doing very well in basic skills," he explained. "Students in West Virginia consistently score well above national averages on basic skills tests. Our schools are providing students with a solid educational foundation on which to grow."
According to Dr. Marockie, West Virginia is also viewed by national education and technology experts as one of America's leaders in technology.
"Since 1989, over 29,000 computer workstations have been installed in West Virginia's kindergarten through sixth grade classrooms," he explained. "Nearly every school in the state is connected to the Internet, and we've installed more than 10,100 computers in 305 secondary schools since 1997 under the SUCCESS (Student Utilization of Computers for the Enhancement of Scholastic Skills) program."
Dr. Marockie said that a Columbia University study commissioned by the Milken Family Foundation indicates that West Virginia's basic skills/computer education program has made a major impact on student achievement.
"West Virginia has one of the most comprehensive approaches to education technology in the nation," he explained. "The results of this comprehensive study clearly show that the investment of time, training and resources has reaped tremendous benefits in terms of student achievement. This investment has led directly to significant gains in math, reading and language arts skills."
The superintendent also told the audience of the state's educational leaders that West Virginia's high school graduates scored an all-time composite score of 20.1 on the American College Testing program, an entrance exam taken by nearly 60 percent of America's entering college freshman. On the Scholastic Aptitude Test, West Virginia graduates posted their highest scores ever in mathematics.
"Both of these milestones occurred in 1998," Dr. Marockie noted. "West Virginia's high school graduates are academically prepared to succeed at any career or technical school, college or university. West Virginia students are given a solid foundation on which to further their education."
Almost 1,500 educational leaders from across West Virginia -- teachers, principals, school system administrators, service personnel, school board members and community leaders -- converged in Charleston on August 2-4 for a wide variety of professional development seminars during the 1999 Leaders of Learning Conference.