CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The West Virginia Department of Education on Wednesday announced that Bluefield Middle School in Mercer County, currently participating in the Closing the Achievement Gap (CAG) Professional Development Demonstration School initiative, was recognized as one of the finalists for the Panasonic National School Change Award.
“We are extremely proud of the teachers and students at Bluefield Middle School,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine. “Qualifying as one of the 21 finalists from across the country for this award is credited to the leadership provided by Mercer County Schools and Bluefield Middle School.”
As one of the CAG schools, Bluefield Middle School has a high percentage of poor, minority and underachieving students. While these traditionally underperforming groups present a major challenge, Bluefield Middle School has made significant improvements.
Bluefield Middle School joins 21 schools across the nation as a finalist for this honor. As a finalist they will receive:
· An invitation to the school’s principal to the Eleventh Annual National Principals Leadership Institute to be conducted at Fordham University in New York City in July 2008
· An invitation to the awards presentation by the United States Department of Education at a special ceremony in New York City in July 2008
· Participation in a major national research project focusing on school change
A school is a candidate for the Panasonic Award if it has experienced significant change for the better in areas such as student achievement scores, innovative teaching practices, and overall improved teaching and learning attitudes.
In 2007, all subgroups of students at Bluefield Middle School met adequate yearly progress (AYP) with high percentages of proficiency in content areas assessed by the West Virginia Educational Standards Test (WESTEST). Not only did Bluefield Middle School close the achievement gap, but the sixth thru eighth grade test scores earned the school the number one ranking among West Virginia middle schools with 50 or more students in each of 10 qualifying subgroups making AYP in mathematics and reading.
Enrolling 560 students, Bluefield Middle School’s student population is 70 percent low socio-economic status, 23 percent African American, and 15 percent students with disabilities. These students have demonstrated extraordinary improvement in achievement making continuous progress in closing all of the achievement gaps. At the same time the number of students scoring distinguished and above mastery, the highest levels possible on the WESTEST, has increased by more than 60 percent over the past two years in mathematics. (104 students in 2006, 150 students in 2007) Similar gains have been evidenced in Reading/Language Arts. (183 students in 2006, 196 students in 2007) Additionally, the students have improved their attendance rates to more than 97 percent with all subgroups showing an attendance rate of at least 96 percent.
The Panasonic National School Change Award is sponsored by Panasonic Corporation of North America and the Fordham University Graduate School of Education. In April, Eagle School Intermediate, another CAG school located in Berkeley County, West Virginia, received the Panasonic Award.
For more information, contact the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699.