March 10, 2017 - Volume 37 Issue 6


The West Virginia Board of Education voted this week to approve a waiver of Policy 2320 to on statewide accountability ratings for public schools for 2016-2017.

The action waives Policy 2320, Section 5.2.a. , which states that beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, the West Virginia Accountability System would assign all public schools with grades of A through F. As a result of this week’s waiver, A-through-F grades will not be determined for the 2016-2017 school year. With the waiver, West Virginia remain in alignment with the federal timelines outlined in the Every Student Succeeds Act, which requires full implementation of an accountability system by the 2017-2018 school year.

“The Board has listened to various stakeholders throughout the state, including educators, who overwhelmingly ask us to reexamine our statewide accountability system,” state board President Tom Campbell said. “We understand an accountability system is necessary but want to take time to evaluate the best solution for our schools and communities.”

The state board and the West Virginia Department of Education will work with stakeholders to ensure multiple measures are included and the requirements of ESSA are met in the accountability system, which will begin based on data from the 2017-2018 school year.

Editor’s Note: Education Week(3/8, Burnette) reports that as states work to implement new accountability systems under the Every Student Succeeds Act, “officials in some are pushing to replace or revamp A-F grading for schools, which supporters tout as an easy way to convey to the public how schools stack up.” Noting that 18 states have adopted such metrics in recent years, the article reports on the “fierce backlash” such systems have sparked among superintendents and school boards, who “complain that the letter grades oversimplify student success or shortfalls, increase pressure to pay attention to tests, ignore school quality factors other than test scores, and demoralize teachers and parents.”

The West Virginia Board of Education has taken several actions regarding statewide testing. The board voted to eliminate English language arts and mathematics statewide assessments in grades nine and 10. Beginning during the spring 2017 testing window, high school students will be tested only in grade 11. The change puts West Virginia in line with federal requirements to test at least once at the high school level.

The board also voted to move away from the Smarter Balanced assessment beginning with the 2017-18 school year and directed the Department of Education to explore options to adopt another statewide assessment.

In response to comments received during a 30-day public comment period on assessment policy 2340, the board voted to remove policy language that would have used end-of-course exams in selected high school courses. The public overwhelmingly did not support the use of end-of-course exams  based on comments received.

The state board also approved a change in grade levels for the statewide science assessment from grade four to five in elementary school and grade six to eight in middle school. West Virginia students will now be tested at the end of each programmatic level in science, resulting in a more accurate depiction of how well students master science skills.

“As a board, we are committed to finding the best assessment solution for the students in West Virginia,” Tom Campbell, president of the state board, said. “With that goal in mind, our board will listen to the public and our state’s educators who always have students’ best interest at heart.”

More West Virginia public school students are taking college-level Advanced Placement® (AP) courses and earning credit than ever before, according to a national report. Nearly 12,000 students in the graduating class of 2016 took an AP exam and 10.9 percent scored a 3 or higher, resulting in earned college credit.

The annual report, published by the College Board, shows that in the past five years West Virginia has seen an increase in the percentage of graduates earning a 3 or higher on an AP exam by 2.3 percent. English Language and Composition and United States History are the most common AP courses taken by West Virginia students.

“I applaud our students who choose to participate in advanced coursework before college,” Supt. Michael Martirano said. “Rigorous AP courses provide our students with a strong foundation as they prepare for college and the 21st century world of work.”

Participation in AP courses has continued to increase throughout the last ten years while enrollment in West Virginia has decreased. During 2015-16 school year, 13 counties had a participation rate of 30 percent or higher and Monongalia County saw the highest rate of success among students with more than 30 percent scoring a 3 or higher.

Raleigh and Webster counties were recognized by the College Board as part of the “AP District Honor Roll,” which honors districts for increasing access to AP coursework while simultaneously maintaining or increasing the percentage of students earning scores of a 3 or higher on AP exams. According to the College Board, “The Honor Roll counties are successfully identifying motivated, academically prepared students and are committed to expanding the availability of AP courses among students of all backgrounds.”

West Virginia students who cannot afford the AP testing fee receive assistance through the “AP Test Fee Waiver Grant program” through the U.S. Department of Education. In 2016, 1,308 qualifying students received assistance to take 2,001 AP exams. Students who qualified paid $15 per exam instead of the typical cost of $93 per exam.

For a complete profile of West Virginia’s AP performance, please visit: http://static.k12.wv.us/tt/2017/wv-ap-info.pdf.