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State's Eighth Graders Outperform Region on New 1998 Writing Assessment

September 29, 1999

West Virginia's eighth graders performed better than their counterparts in the Southeast on a new national writing assessment conducted in 1998, State Superintendent Dr. Henry Marockie announced today.  

"According to data released today by the National Center for Education Statistics, 82 percent of West Virginia's eighth graders scored at or above the Basic level, compared to 81 percent of students in the Southeast and 83 percent of students nationally," Dr. Marockie explained. "This new writing assessment will provide us with baseline data to gauge educational progress in the coming years. We will utilize this data to determine methods to improve student performance in writing and to develop professional development workshops for our teachers."  

According to the Superintendent, West Virginia's eighth graders received an average scale score of 144 on the new assessment, compared to 143 for students in the Southeast and the national average of 148.  

Dr. Marockie said that West Virginia's African-American students performed significantly better than their counterparts in both the Southeast and across the nation on the new assessment.  

According to the report, African-American students in West Virginia received an average score of 140, compared to 129 in the Southeast and 130 nationally.  

"This detailed report not only provides a comprehensive comparison of students' writing skills by state, but it also examines socioeconomic factors including parents' income and educational levels which historically have affected students' academic performance," Dr. Marockie noted. "This information will be extremely helpful to both educators and policy makers in West Virginia. During the past decade, West Virginia has made tremendous educational progress in all areas. Today's report will provide us with valuable information and data to help shape educational plans for the next decade."  

According to the report released today, 39 percent of West Virginia's eighth graders reported having at least one parent with a college degree, compared to 56 percent in Connecticut and 48 percent nationally. Also, 39 percent of the state's eighth graders participating in the assessment were reported as eligible for the free/reduced-price lunch program, compared to only 18 percent in Connecticut and 30 percent nationally. Information contained in the report mirrors other economic data which shows that West Virginia ranks 49th in the nation in per capita income (1997).  

The information released today by the National Center for Education Statistics was part of the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation's Report Card (http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard). A representative sample of students from 41 states and other jurisdictions was tested in 1998. Slightly more than 2,600 West Virginia students from 106 public schools participated in the assessment.

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