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School officials in W.Va. see positive signs in tests scores

August 26, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

karenh@herald-mail.com

EASTERN PANHANDLE, W.Va. - More than one-quarter of the schools in Berkeley and Jefferson counties in W.Va. failed to meet federal standards in reading and math, according to test scores released Thursday by the state Department of Education. About 83 percent of West Virginia's 715 public schools made the grade.

In Berkeley County, seven of 28 schools failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress, a measurement of how students in 37 subgroups fared on the WESTEST reading and math tests.

More than 80 percent of students registered mastery on the reading tests, and the county's percentage of students who passed the math tests was in the high 70s, Berkeley County Schools Deputy Superintendent Frank Aliveto said.

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Six of the seven schools failed because of the results of special-education students on the tests, Aliveto said. According to Aliveto, every school made gains among its special-education students, but the improvement was not quite enough.

"That's the difficult part of (No Child Left Behind) that really doesn't make a lot of sense," Aliveto said.

Nearly 595 public schools had no problem meeting the guidelines, an improvement over last year when 520 schools, or 71 percent, met standards in testing, graduation rates and attendance, said state schools Superintendent Steve Paine.

"The news of our high marks on the WESTEST comes as a wonderful morale booster at the beginning of the school year," he said.

Five Jefferson County schools and one Morgan County school failed to make the grade. Susan Wall, Jefferson County associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said the system is making progress.

"We are headed in the right direction, so I'm pleased and proud of all the teachers' hard work," Wall said.

Last year, six Jefferson County schools failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress, Wall said. Wright Denny Intermediate School moved off the state's improvement list, Wall said.

No Child Left Behind established new accountability measures aimed at shrinking the gap between disadvantaged students and their peers. It requires states to set clear and high standards for what students in each grade should know, to measure student performance and to produce annual state and school district report cards reflecting adequate yearly progress.

A majority of the schools were on the improvement list for having too many special education students who scored poorly on standardized tests. Others had too many low-income or minority students who scored poorly.

Thirty-six of the 121 low-performing schools in 2004-05, including Orchard View Intermediate in Berkeley County, are Title I facilities that have struggled with low test scores for at least two years, and must offer students the option to transfer to another school at no cost to their parents.

Schools that fail to make improvements for three years also must make available free tutoring, after-school help or other supplemental services. Thirty-seven schools had to offer that option in 2003-04.

The Title I program benefits students in high-poverty areas and is awarded to schools where at least 50 percent of the student body is enrolled in the federal free and reduced lunch program.

None of the Jefferson County schools on the improvement list are Title I facilities, Wall said.

According to Aliveto, Orchard View Intermediate parents will have until next week to decide whether to change schools. Aliveto said no parents took advantage of the opportunity to change schools when two Berkeley County facilities failed to meet the standards last year.

Berkeley County Schools resumed class today.

Aliveto said he believed parents will continue to support Orchard View Intermediate.

"It's an excellent school, it just so happens that one cell didn't improve enough," Aliveto said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.




Schools fail to meet standards in Panhandle


The following area West Virginia schools failed to meet federal performance standards, according to results released Thursday by the State Department of Education:

MORGAN

Warm Springs Middle

BERKELEY

Mill Creek Intermediate

Orchard View Intermediate

Hedgesville Middle

Martinsburg North Middle

Martinsburg South Middle

Musselman Middle

Musselman High

JEFFERSON

Blue Ridge Elementary

Charles Town Middle

Harpers Ferry Middle

Shepherdstown Middle

Jefferson High

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