LOGAN, W.Va. — Since the state board of education released report cards for schools late last year, the grades have been a source of contention for some and pride for others.
The West Virginia Department of Education’s (DOE) website explains the grades were based on four criteria.
A measurement on school performance includes math and language arts outcomes.
Improvement was measured by examining the number of students who are on track to achieve at their grade level in reading and math.
The DOE website notes points were earned for school persistence for, “…students participating in learning opportunities and graduating on time as measured by attendance and the reduction of the number of students at-risk for dropping out.”
Points in post-secondary readiness were earned by students passing advanced placement tests, scores for college credits and technical education.
Schools were given an “A” for distinctive performance, a “B” for commendable performance, a “C” for acceptable performance, a “D” for unacceptable student performance and an “F” for lowest student performance.
Some groups have posited that the use of emergency certified, non credentialed teachers throughout the area is a factor in some of the poor grades received in Logan County.
Governor Jim Justice has said there are 500 teaching positions across the state where a qualified teacher cannot be fielded.
Aside from the grading system, The DOE website (https://zoomwv.k12.wv.us) also provides information on teacher training and experience for each school throughout the state.
The website splits classes in the schools into two groups: those taught by highly qualified teachers and classes not taught by highly qualified teachers.
A highly qualified teacher reportedly constitutes a teacher who has passed the state’s PRAXIS examination for the course they teach.
At the top scoring South Man Elementary, 89 percent of the classes are taught by a highly qualified teacher.
When looking deeper into the numbers, the website explains only 65 percent of language arts classes are taught by a highly qualified teacher.
All of the math classes at South Man, however, are taught by highly qualified teachers.
At Justice Elementary School where the school received a “B” grade, 84 percent of all classes are taught by highly qualified teachers.
In language arts, more than 61 percent of the classes are taught by highly qualified teachers, and 100 percent of math classes are taught by highly qualified teachers.
At Man Middle School, the area’s only failing school, 91 percent of all classes are taught by highly qualified teachers.
More than 91 percent of language arts classes at Man Middle are taught by highly qualified teachers and 100 percent of math classes are taught by highly qualified teachers.
The supposition that the lack of highly qualified teachers in language and math is affecting grades does not seem to hold up to the facts given on the DOE website.
Others have noted the scores in reading and math are directly tied to standardized tests.
While much importance is placed on the standardized tests given each year, they have no bearing on a student’s advancement, report cards or overall academic career.
One person noted grading a school based on a standardized test for which students are not accountable is a, “…fool’s errand.”
Owen Wells is a reporter for Civitas Media. He can be reached at 304-752-6950 or by email at [email protected]