The number of West Virginia schools failing to make AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) under the 2001 NCLB (No Child Left Behind) act has increased significantly over the previous year. The standard is measured by schools' performance in grades 3 through 11 on the West Virginia Educational Standards Test, named “WESTEST 2.” Even though most schools show “improvement” each year, less than half of the schools meet AYP. Test scores rise, meaning teachers are teaching and students are learning; however, schools aren’t meeting the federal standard. Also, the standard rises each year, making it almost impossible to meet. For example, a third-grader needed to score 557 on the math section of the test to be considered proficient in 2009-10. That rose to 581 for the 2010-2011 school year. By 2014, all schools are supposed to meet the standard of 100%, meaning that all testing students in all schools are proficient in math and reading. These unrealistic standards set schools up to fail, and lowers the trust the community has in our teachers.
I’m optimistic that Congress will modernize the guidelines of NCLB to recognize “growth” as the standard of measure so our children and families can regain confidence that they are getting a quality education in our West Virginia schools. Until then, what our Superintendent values, and school administrators communicate to their students, families, and communities, is that continuous improvement and academic growth IS occurring in West Virginia schools, and that is our foremost area of focus.
Cathi Bradley is a mother of two boys who attend the same school in which she is the Principal. She is the 2011 Mom Congress Delegate for West Virginia. Cathi tries her best to treat each student as if he or she is her own, making decisions that would be in their best interest. Having children of her own at the elementary school age puts her in an advantage of knowing what 21st century students need, as well as what challenges they face in society today.