A new national report places West Virginia’s public school system among the Top 10 nationally, giving the state a B- in Education Week’s “Quality Counts 2013” released Thursday. But while West Virginia excels in school finance, standards, alignment and teacher quality in the 17th annual report, it fails when it comes to student achievement and is just average in providing opportunities for success.
“Student achievement is our No. 1 priority,” said state Superintendent of Schools Jim Phares. “It is important that we acknowledge those areas in which our state is succeeding. However, the data presented in Quality Counts from 2012 regarding student achievement remains disturbing. Improving student academic performance is the focus of all the state’s education stakeholders and together we are determined to improve.
“The latest Quality Counts report reinforces the need to focus our efforts on helping county school systems increase student achievement levels by providing resources and reallocating some WVDE staff to the local and regional levels.”
Reallocating some WVDE staff is one of many recommendations set forth in the West Virginia Board of Education’s (WVBE) “Audit to Action: Students First,” which can be found at http://wvde.state.wv.us/policies/audit-response.html. Continued poor student performance prompted the WVBE to join with Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, the state Legislature, educators, parents and others to work to enact reforms.
Quality Counts ranked West Virginia ninth overall this year with a score of 80.8 percent. The report tracks key education indicators and grades states on their policy efforts and outcomes. This year’s report considered chance for success; transitions and alignment and school finance. It also included data from the 2012 report in K-12 achievement; standards, assessments and accountability; and the teaching profession.
Quality Counts ranked West Virginia No. 2 with an A- in school finance, up from a C in 2012. The category considered school spending patterns and the distribution of resources within a state. The national average was a C.
In transitions and alignment, West Virginia earned a B+, which dropped from an A in 2012. The nation received a B-. This category tracked state policy efforts to coordinate connections between pre-K-12 schooling and other segments of the education pipeline with a focus on early childhood education, college readiness and career readiness.
West Virginia received a C- in chance for success, a similar score to 2012. The national average was C+. This index looked at 13 indicators, such as family income; parental education, employment and English-speaking ability; preschool and kindergarten enrollment; student performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP); high school graduation; and adult educational attainment.
Other West Virginia results from the 2012 report repeated in the 2013 report include an A in standards, assessments and accountability; a B- in the teaching profession; and an F in K-12 achievement.
The 2013 report also looked at school climate and discipline on a national level. More than 1,300 educators completed the survey (http://www.edweek.org/ew/toc/2013/01/10/).
About 83 percent of administrators and 72 percent of teachers nationwide said school climate was very important to educational success, while 54 percent of administrators and 46 percent of teachers said discipline played an important role.