"Quality Counts" Report: State Ranks Fourth in Nation

January 11, 2001

West Virginia’s marks in the “Quality Counts” report released yesterday by Education Week magazine were among the best in the nation, but the state’s superintendent of schools believes that West Virginia’s education system can and must do better.  

According to State Superintendent Dr. David Stewart, West Virginia tied for fourth in the study which evaluates the states on standards and accountability, improving teacher quality, school climate, and adequacy and equity of resources. Education Week is American Education’s Newspaper of Record.  

“West Virginia is doing a good job educating students, especially when our education system is compared to other states,” he explained. “Our marks slipped slightly from the scores in previous years because Education Week changed the criteria on which states are graded. We recognize that West Virginia has room for improvement, and we intend to focus our efforts in those areas in the coming months and years.”  

According to Education Week’s latest report, West Virginia received an A in adequacy of resources, a C+ in equity of resources, a C in improving teacher quality, and D+ grades in standards and accountability and school climate.  

Although West Virginia’s assessment program has not changed, its grade in standards and accountability dropped from B+ last year to D+ in this year’s report. Using different criteria this year, the Education Week study rewarded states using assessments including short answers, essays and portfolios. Most states, including West Virginia, use multiple choice tests to assess students.  

“We plan to phase out the Stanford-9 test within two years,” Dr. Stewart explained. “We also plan to examine other assessment approaches while focusing our efforts on pre-school programs, reading and the other basic skills, programs that prepare students for successful employment and ways to ensure that we are producing productive citizens in our public schools. We plan to refocus and refine our efforts in the coming months to address those areas needing improvement.”  

West Virginia’s grade in equity of resources slipped from B+ last year to C+ this year because Education Week changed its criteria. Last year, the report compared states’ actual funding across school districts to determine funding equity, while this year’s report gives states points for their efforts to equalize funding. West Virginia remains the second best state in the nation in terms of providing equal funding to school districts, according to the Education Week report.  

Education Week noted that “the state has stayed the course on standards-based reform . . .To its credit, West Virginia has invited a panel of outside experts to review its system for holding schools and students accountable for results. The state has also targeted its professional development program for improvement, and it took steps last year to expand the supply and quality of its teaching force.”  

The report also noted that “West Virginia students have shown improvement in every grade level on the Stanford-9 for the past three years. And while some criticize the state’s use of the norm-referenced Stanford test, many in the state education community point to improved scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress as proof that West Virginia is making progress.”

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