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Letters to the Editor 5/24

May 24, 2000

Jefferson High makes the grade

To the editor:

Nothing is more important than parents and students taking education seriously. So I understand concerns expressed in recent months by parents and students affiliated with Jefferson High School that the school's accreditation status was at risk.

Although I have said many times that the school was fully accredited, I want to underscore that point with our students, their parents and the community by sharing information sent to Del. Dale Manuel from Dr. Kenna R. Seal, Director of the Office of Education Performance Audits. This is the office that oversees the state accreditation for schools in West Virginia.

Jefferson High School reported an average daily attendance rate of 91.1 percent in 1998-1999. The state required schools to maintain an average daily attendance rate of 91.5 percent.

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Because Jefferson High School did not meet the attendance requirement, the school was placed on Temporary Accreditation status for a brief period of time while school officials prepared to plan to improve the attendance rate. Upon receiving and reviewing that plan, Seal's office upgraded the high school's level to Conditional Accreditation.

In the letter, Seal said, "Our performance-based accreditation system holds schools and school systems accountable for performance rather than exercising punitive measures against individual students. All schools in West Virginia are accredited at some level. No school ever loses its accreditation. No accreditation status (by the state) of a school is ever included on a student's transcript, grades or report card."

Seal went on to say that parents can be assured that a student's admittance to college, selection for scholarships, or acceptance in a specific program would ever be impacted by a schoolwide attendance deficiency at the school from which they graduated. I echo that statement.

Further, I want to note that a regional education review panel also accredits Jefferson High School. That accreditation, which was renewed by the North Central Association this month, adds strength to a student's application to a college. In a letter announcing the accreditation renewal, North Central Association director Rebecca H. Goodwin said, "The school is to be commended for its efforts in providing for its students a quality program of education." I echo that statement as well.

Jefferson High School administration and faculty are working hard to improve the average daily attendance rate at Jefferson High School. With their dedication and help from parents and guardians, I am sure we will raise the attendance rate at Jefferson High School.

We need parents to help by making sure their teenagers are attending school. I encourage all parents to remain active and interested participants in their children's education. Together, we have forged an impressive school system dedicated to "Quality Education for Every Student." Together, we will continue to improve our programs and meet the changing needs of education today.

David W. Markoe

Superintendent

Charles Town, W.Va.

More discussion on schools needed

To the editor:

It is discouraging to see so few comments being made by candidates for the Washington County Board of Education regarding their views on the many issues challenging the county, e.g.,:

1) the push for block scheduling (there's no data to support this improving student education);

2) reduction of music, art and physical education (PE) classes (data supports music and art improving student performance across all subjects and in SAT performance, PE is recommended every day at school by the federal government with at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise for short- and long-term benefits).

Have board candidates and current members read "Guidelines for School and Community Programs to Promote Lifelong Physical Activity Among Young People," MMWR Recommendations and Reports, March 7, 1997?

How about the "School Health Index for Physical Activity and Healthy Eating: A Self-Assessment and Planning Guide" (Elementary, Middle school/high school versions), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Atlanta, GA. 2000? You can download both from the CDC web site and order a free copy of the second!

3) such an emphasis on MSPAP testing that overall education suffers (e.g., teachers pulled from other classes to proctor, teaching the test);

4) lack of communication with parents on decisions affecting children at individual schools;

5) the reluctance of teachers, especially those without tenure, (and many of whom are parents) to voice their opinions, on issues about which they should be considered knowledgeable; and

6) feasibility of charter schools, which are public schools chartered by the local board of education (which to date has no written criteria to evaluate a charter).

I would encourage candidates to write about their views. The four seats up for election represent a majority. We, the community, need to know where you stand on these and other issues!

Stephen E. Popper

Smithsburg

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