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New policy rates W.Va. schools with A-F grade

BECKLEY, W.Va. — Schools in West Virginia are now held accountable to the same grading system students face, following a Wednesday meeting of the West Virginia Board of Education.

In his State of the State Address in January, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin had charged the board with adopting a policy that would assign a grade of A through F to public schools.

On Wednesday, state board members approved the new accountability scale.

“All students have the ability to learn and grow, and a strong accountability system must capture measures of that growth,” said WVBOE President Gayle Manchin. “By focusing on both mastery of content and growth, a true picture of how a student and school are doing is apparent.”

Schools will receive their first “grades” when school starts in the fall and will receive one every year in the future, according to state Department of Education spokeswoman Christine Galusha.

Following the accountability system WVDE enacted last year — which graded schools as success (highest ranking), transition, focus, support or priority (lowest) — the “grade” will be based on WESTEST proficiency scores, student academic growth, attendance rates, graduation rates for high schools and achievement gaps between groups of students.

The new system, however, places a higher weight on student focus and school performance and changes the student “subgroups.”

Raleigh County Schools Superintendent Jim Brown said the new accountability system offers a familiar scale that all parents can understand and that will motivate communities to become more involved when a school is in trouble.

“With one of the highest numbers of success schools, our system is aligned for high expectations,” he said. “They’ve performed very well.

“We do know there are schools that are going to be below that mark,” he added. “I don’t think anyone is going to be satisfied with a ‘C.’

“It’s going to ask us to look at our data and raise the bar.”

State board member Dr. William White had opposed the new grading system after expressing concern that a low rating could impact property values in the district as well as teacher recruitment…

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