State Superintendent Of Schools Confident That 21st Century Skills Are Key To Future Student Success

October 19, 2005

Charleston, W.Va. – West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine today put his support behind 21st Century Learning Skills. Paine is taking a proactive approach to teaching higher level, analytical thinking to students.  

“Though the Department of Education believes strongly in the equity promoted through No Child Left Behind (NCLB), we must also focus on the quality of education,” said Paine. “We have worked tirelessly teaching students basic skills; but we must also develop critical thinking, communication and problem solving skills. Our students must be prepared to compete in a high tech 21st Century.”  

Paine’s remarks come at a time when the recently released the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card, shows a slight decrease in West Virginia students' math and reading scores. The NAEP assesses a broad range of skills and the use of these skills at a high level of application.  

“I am concerned with the recent NAEP scores. NAEP is only one test but our students have traditionally done well on the exam,” said Paine. “It is evident to me that there is a great need to go beyond what NCLB requires if our students are expected to compete on a global level. The NAEP results point this out.” NAEP results for 4th grade students indicate that math scores have remained the same since 2003 at 231. Meanwhile, 4th grade reading scores are down from 219 in 2003 to 215 this year. NAEP math scores for 8th grade students declined by two points from 271 to 269. Eighth grade students’ reading scores decreased from 260 in 2003 to 255 in 2005.  

The NAEP assesses only a representative sample (2,500 to 3,000) of West Virginia students statewide by distributing the assessment questions in each content area among groups of test takers who take different versions of the test. Unlike many other assessments, about half of all NAEP questions require students to provide a thoroughly written response rather than selection of a multiple-choice answer.  

It is important to point out that West Virginia has made great strides in getting an accurate picture of student performance by including all students in NAEP testing. Any student capable of taking the WESTEST, the state assessment, was required to take the NAEP exam if chosen through the random sampling. As a result, West Virginia includes more students with disabilities than many other states. More information on inclusion rates can be found at the following links: Reading Math  

For more information regarding the NAEP results contact, the Office of Student Assessment at (304) 558-2546 or visit  

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