This action comes after 53 of the state’s 55 county school systems were identified as not meeting the countywide standards under the federal legislation. Two smaller counties, Gilmer and Wirt, were the only two that reached the NCLB standard for Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).
“From the start, the Board and the Department have been saying that we strongly support the concept of NCLB. We agree that all children can learn and we want to close the achievement gap,” said Stewart. “The latest news is an example of areas of the law that need to be revised. We recognize there is always room to improve student performance; however, our school districts are doing an outstanding job of providing quality instruction for all students. To identify a district as ‘in need of improvement’ because it needs to improve one subject in one subgroup is unreasonable.”
West Virginia’s definition of AYP requires all schools to be held accountable to meet all of the academic indicators used to measure AYP:
-meet assessment standards separately in Reading/Language Arts and Mathematics; -meet 95% participation rate separately in Reading/Language Arts and Mathematics; -meet 80% graduation rate for secondary schools or show improvement, and -meet 90% attendance rate for elementary and middle schools or show improvement.
Under the federal legislation, not only does each school have to meet AYP standards but the county as a whole must also meet AYP standards. The legislation requires that every student subgroup of at least 50 children must excel on the WESTEST, the West Virginia assessment of what students are learning based on West Virginia Content Standards. All of the required subgroups, including students with disabilities, major racial subgroups and disadvantaged students must meet the same standard as all students in determining adequate yearly progress.
Fifty-two of the 53 counties that did not meet the federal standards were cited for special education student performance. In addition, 26 of the 53 counties were identified because of the performance of low socio-economic students.
“West Virginia supports the concept of ‘learning for all’ and has developed a framework for school district success based on continuous systemic improvement,” said Stewart. “In addition, we will pursue amendments to West Virginia’s Accountability Plan under NCLB so that federal funding is allocated to classroom instruction where it will do the most to increase student achievement.”