School officials learning new accountability system

PARKERSBURG – Scores from the WESTEST2 and subsequent designation of schools according to a new accountability system Wednesday were released by the state Department of Education.

Wood County Schools Superintendent Pat Law said countywide WESTEST2 scores were about the same as last year. Based on the new accountability system, which weighs several categories and is based on past scores, Wood County schools got varied results.

As part of the West Virginia Elementary and Secondary Education Act Waiver, the state is using its own accountability system created by West Virginia education experts for students. The former standard, Adequate Yearly Progress, no longer exists

“Many things come into play,” Law said. “You’re not looking at any one score. It’s no longer meet, or did not make AYP.”

Schools are now graded on whether students are meeting grade level expectations, how much a school has closed its achievement gap between groups of students and how much students are improving academically, no matter their current level of performance.

The state department of education has a website that allows for the review of specific school data, the My School Performance website at:

The new accountability system categorizes schools according to progress as a: Success; Transition; Focus; Support; or Priority school.

Priority schools are determined over sub-par performance trends for the last three years. Focus schools are determined by achievement gaps between a sub group 2012 performance and the overall student group performance in a school for this school year.

Law said schools saw gains at the middle school level, but decreases at the elementary levels, particularly in third grade testing areas.

Some schools that scored higher marks still rated below schools that recorded lower numbers because it hit targeted index marks. Worthington Elementary, Blennerhassett Middle and Hamilton Middle met its targeted index scores.

Of 652 schools, just more than 28 percent (184 schools) met both student performance and growth expectations and earned a Success designation. Another 39 percent of schools (251 schools) earned a Transition designation because they showed some progress in meeting either student proficiency or student growth goals.

In Wood County, Blennerhassett, McKinley, Vienna and Worthington elementary schools and Blennerhassett, Edison, Hamilton and VanDevender middle schools are designated Focus Schools.

Parkersburg South and Parkersburg High schools have been designated Support-PR schools, indicating that the schools did not have a 95 percent participation of testing in any one subgroup.

“We are pleased with what we are seeing,” Law said.

“We have some challenges,” he said. “The biggest is moving from one system to a totally different one.”

Statewide, education officials said students are seeing improvement at all grade levels on the WESTEST 2, but they are not closing the gap fast enough to meet national expectations.

According to a release from the West Virginia Department of Education, of the students who did not meet proficiency rates in math, 73 percent showed no academic improvement. Of the students who did not meet proficiency rates in reading, 68 percent showed no academic improvement.

“The data clearly show that although our educators are working very hard, there is still much to be accomplished,” said Gayle Manchin, West Virginia Board of Education president. “The (board) will not be satisfied until every student is proficient, attending school regularly and graduating from high school ready for college or a career.”

School officials said understanding the new system and how it works can be confounding, but Law said it’s a better system for identifying strengths and weaknesses.

The idea is better designation of schools, he said.

“Lots of things go into this,” he said. “And it’s still new to us.”