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Berkeley Co. test scores show improvement

September 05, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — State achievement test scores sent home with Berkeley County students last week show across-the-board improvement, but officials readily admit more gains are needed.

“We increased in 84 percent of the areas that are measured,” Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Margaret Kursey said in a recent interview.

More than 11,000 Berkeley County students in grades three through 11 took the West Virginia Educational Standards Test 2, or WESTEST 2 this spring, according to Kursey.

The annual test is used to assess students’ proficiency in math, reading and language arts, science and social studies. 

Among the four subject areas, the greatest improvement over 2010-11 scores was tallied in math and reading language arts, according to data released by the school district.

Statewide, proficiency scores for reading and language skills rose to 48.4 percent in 2012, up from more than 47.7 percent the year before, according to the state Department of Education. Math scores increased from 43.1 percent to 46.5 percent this year, according to state officials.

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Compared to the state figures, Berkeley County’s test scores for reading were slightly higher at 48.6 percent, which represented an increase of nearly 3 percent over the school district’s 2010-11 scores, according to data  Kursey released this week.

At 44 percent proficient, the county’s math scores fell about 2.5 percent below the state mark, but this year’s scores improved by nearly 5 percent over the 2010-11 year scores, according to Kursey. The county’s scores in science and social studies also exceeded the state average, according to state data.

Kursey said the school district adopted a plan to continue to work to increase scores overall and confirmed that the board of education’s recent approval to hire a math coordinator was made to help improve test scores for that subject in particular.

Test scores of Berkeley County students in grades 3, 6, 7 and 8, increased in all subjects and middle school students tested at or above state averages in most areas, according to Kursey.

When separated by age group, Berkeley County’s elementary school test scores in reading actually met the state mark and the county’s middle school students scored more than four percentage points higher than the state average. The county’s high school test scores in reading were 5 percent lower than the state average.   

In math, the county’s elementary school students tested higher than the state average and middle school students test score average of about 46 percent was less than 1 percent lower than the state figure. The county’s high school test score average was 45.1 percent, according to the data.

Of the 21 schools tracked for making adequate yearly progress in the testing, only six met the benchmark, according to the state Department of Education data. Most Berkeley County schools that didn’t meet the benchmark, however, were affected by scores in one or more subgroups, with special education and low socio-economic sectors having the greatest impact, according to the school officials.

By making adequate yearly progress this year, Bunker Hill, Burke Street, Inwood Primary and Rosemont elementary schools each met the benchmark for a fifth consecutive year. The other two schools to make the benchmark this year, Valley View and Winchester Avenue elementary schools, had only failed to meet the standard one out of the past five years, according to state data.

Hedgesville High School did not meet the progress benchmark this year for the first time in the same time frame, according to the state data.

Overall, Kursey said she is very pleased with the improved test scores over the previous year, but readily conceded “we have work to do.”

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