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Southern WV math, science scores continue their rise


The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Math and science scores continued to trend upward in schools across West Virginia’s southern coalfields in the 2016-17 school year, according to the latest results published Tuesday by the state Department of Education.

Students in elementary, middle and high schools were tested in math, science and reading.

Boone, Cabell, Lincoln, Logan, Mason, Mingo, Putnam and Wayne counties all showed more students testing proficient in math scores over the previous year, led by a jump of nearly nine percentage points in Wayne County, an increase of more than seven points in Logan County and a nearly six-point increase in Mingo County.

Cabell and Kanawha counties both notched five-point increases in the percentage of students who tested proficient. By contrast, math scores fell by just over five percentage points in Wyoming County, the only southern county to post lower results in math.

Results were taken from grades 3-8 and 11, which were the only grades evaluated for math through West Virginia state testing last spring. The statewide average for math proficiency was 34 percent in 2016-17.

Boone, Cabell, Kanawha, Lincoln, Mason, Putnam, Wayne and Wyoming counties all raised their science scores in the 2016-17 year, led by a nine-point increase in Mason County. Science scores in Cabell and Putnam counties rose just under five percentage points, while scores in Wayne County rose roughly 31/2 points.

Logan and Mingo counties both posted lower results in science scores, falling 0.74 points and 1.42 points, respectively.

Grades 5, 8 and 10 were the only grades tested for science proficiency during the 2016-17 year. The most recent science scores are matched against the 2015-16 results by grades 4, 6 and 10, who were the only grades tested for science proficiency last year. The statewide average for science proficiency was 38 percent in 2016-17.

The most recent reading comprehension scores revealed generally flatter growth or decline in West Virginia’s southern counties, though Wayne County again led the area with an increase of nearly 71/2 percentage points. By comparison, Cabell and Logan counties posted the next highest growths in reading at just under three points each. Mingo, Putnam and Wyoming counties all increased their reading scores by 2 percent or less.

Wayne County Superintendent of Schools Todd Alexander said the county’s comparatively strong growth is cause for optimism moving forward into his first full year leading the district. Alexander became superintendent in May following the resignation of Sandra Pertee in November 2016 and two interim stints by Steven Paine, now the state superintendent of schools, and David Roach.

Poorer results in reading were recorded in Boone, Kanawha, Lincoln and Mason counties, led by Boone County at just over a four-point decrease. In the other three counties, growth was lost by a percentage point or less.

Like math, reading results were taken from grades 3-8 and 11. The statewide average for reading proficiency is 47 percent.

The results were generated after about 150,000 students took the West Virginia General Summative Assessment. About 2,200 students with cognitive disabilities took the alternate assessment, the results of which were included in general testing.

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