West Virginia public school reform

The following editorial appeared in The Journal, Martinsburg, on Sept. 2:

If you are among the many people concerned about the quality of public schools in West Virginia, the hits just keep coming.

Earlier this month, results of the state’s new standardized test were released. They show most – yes, most, not just a few – public school students are not able to achieve “proficient” grades in English and mathematics.

Then, last week, results of the ACT college tests for this year were released. Just 21 percent of Mountain State high school graduates who took the test met all four of the ACT’s benchmarks for readiness to do college-level work. Testing covered English, mathematics, reading and science.

ACT results mean this, in a nutshell: Nearly four of every five West Virginians who took the test were not fully prepared by their high schools to go to college.

Of the 11,289 students who took the test in our state, most probably enrolled in some form of higher education. No doubt many will have to work their way through remedial classes in college, costing them time and money.

Clearly, something is very wrong with the public school system, not just in our state but in many others, too. ACT comparisons between how West Virginians did on the test and national averages make that painfully obvious.

In English, 69 percent of Mountain State students earned ACT scores indicating they are ready for college work. The national average was just 64 percent.

In math, 34 percent of West Virginians met the ACT benchmark, compared to 42 percent nationally. Low numbers also were recorded in reading and science.

Education reform allegedly has been a national priority for decades. Yet little seems to have changed.

It was obvious years ago that something about how we manage public schools was not working. It still isn’t.



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