OPINION: Report Card for Ohio County Schools

By David Delk

Weelunk.com Contributor

Each year the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) evaluates the performance of each public school in the state and assigns each school a performance designation. First, the schools receive an index score between 0 and 100, with 100 being the best. This score is comprised of five different performance criteria:

1) Proficiency (How many students at the school perform at grade level expectations, or are “Proficient”?);

2) Achievement Gaps Closed (How well and much has the school closed its achievement gap between different groups of students?);

3) Observed Growth (How much have individual students grown regardless of their starting proficiency level?);

4) Adequate Growth (How close are students are from reaching their grade level expectations?);

5) Attendance or Graduation Rate.

Each of these five factors is afforded a different percentage weight for each school as determined by the WVDE. Each school also is assigned an index target for each year between 2012 and 2020, as the state set a goal that every child is at least 75 percent proficient in reading and math by the 2020 year. Therefore, each year the goal is for every school to meet or exceed the amount it would have to improve that year to be on track to hit that 75 percent mark by 2020 – meaning that high performing schools already are at or near target goals and are required to show little or no improvement from year to year, and lower performing schools are expected to meet ambitious index targets each year.

Depending on a school’s index score and certain other target criteria, the school will receive one of five designations from the WVDE. The department released its school performance ranking to the public on Dec. 5, 2014, for the recent the 2013-14 school year. See below for a description of each ranking and how Ohio County fared:

  • Success”: The school has met its index target score, and the majority of its subgroups are making academic progress [Steenrod Elementary, West Liberty Elementary, Woodsdale Elementary]
  • Transition”: The school has met its target score and/or has demonstrated that a majority of its subgroups are making academic progress [Bethlehem Elementary, Elm Grove Elementary, Middle Creek Elementary, Ritchie Elementary, Triadelphia Middle, Wheeling Middle]
  • Support”: The school has not met its target score and has not demonstrated that a majority of its subgroups are making sufficient academic progress [Madison Elementary, Wheeling Park High]
  • Priority”: A school that is among the lowest performing schools in the state based on student proficiency rates in mathematics and reading [None in Ohio County]
  • Focus”: A school among those with the largest achievement gaps between student subgroups in the state. It’s important to note that a Focus school is one that was designated in 2012, and — oddly enough — that school must remain in that category regardless of improvements made. No new Focus schools could be designated last year or this year. [Bridgestreet Middle, Warwood School]

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The WVDE has designated about 25 percent of Ohio County Schools as Success schools during the last two years.  This performance is better than most counties in West Virginia but not as good as school districts like Kanawha, Monongalia, Jefferson and Morgan counties which all have a higher percentage of Success schools for 2013-14.  Ohio County Schools had three schools drop down a designation, as Bethlehem Elementary moved from a Success to a Transition school, and Madison Elementary and Wheeling Park High School moved from Transition schools to Support schools.  Another interesting note is that across the state the number of Success schools dropped from 190 to 120, Transition schools from 257 to 180, and Support schools increased from 75 to 140. It seems that as the schools start to “climb” the index targets to obtain the 2020 goal of 75 percent proficiency, schools will have to demonstrate strong student improvement, or their designations and/or ratings will continue to decline.

For more information about your community school, you should check out the information on the WV Department of Education’s website here. I also encourage you to talk to your local teacher or principal to learn what more is behind these rankings, as the system handed down from Charleston is so confusing that even members of the Board of Education struggle to explain it fully and clearly. And don’t get too comfortable with these school rankings from the WVDE because in 2014-15 the WVDE is totally revamping how schools receive their rankings after only two years of the current system! In place of labels like “Success” and “Transition,”West Virginia schools will receive letter grades, ranging from A to F. Because the WVDE has not announced exactly how it will calculate these new grades, it is unclear at this point how the old Index Score and labels like “success” or “transition” will correlate directly to the letter grades of, say, an “A” or a “B.” No matter how the letter grades are determined, let’s hope the process and data continue to be fully and readily available to parents and are easily understandable as well.



2 Responses

  1. APSK86

    This system is skewed. For example, a school like Woodsdale can be considered a success school because most of their students are on the same plane or close to it, even if it is relatively low, yet acceptable. Bridge Street Middle, on the other hand has very high achievement in many students, but because they have a large special ed population subgroup that is lower achiving compared to Woodsdale, they have a much larger achievement gap which designates them as a focus school. If Bridge Street’s high achieving students were achieving at a lower rate, the gap would be smaller and they may not have the gap to consider them a focus school. I hope that when the OEPA audits come out, parents read them and realize how amazing our school system really is and how hard our teachers work as oppose to looking at a skewed rating that someone who obviously has no idea what a real school should look like created.

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  2. David Delk

    This 2013-14 report card is not as successful as the 2012-13 designations when Ohio County Schools had four Success Schools (Bethlehem, Steenrod, West Liberty and Woodsdale), seven Transition schools (Elm Grove, Madison, Middle Creek, Ritchie, Triadelphia, Wheeling Middle and Wheeling Park), zero Support schools, and two Focus schools (Bridge Street Middle and Warwood). This year 7 of the 13 schools showed a decline in their Index Scores. Here is the ranking of each Ohio County School based on its Index Score:

    1) Steenrod Elementary earned an Index Score of 94.04 (up 10% from 2012-13). Steenrod exceeded its Index Target of 74.66 by over 19 Index points. 89% of its students meet or exceed grade level expectations compared to the state-wide average of 36%. 98% of students who are improving are on track to meet grade level expectations.
    2) West Liberty Elementary earned an Index Score of 79.98 (down 11%). West Liberty exceeded its Index Target of 74.66 by over 5 Index points. 83% of its students meet or exceed grade level expectations. 70% of students who are improving are on track to meet grade level expectations.
    3) Woodsdale Elementary earned an Index Score of 69.93 (down 10%). Woodsdale exceeded its Index Target of 69.73 by less than 1 Index point. 71% of its students meet or exceed grade level expectations. 79% of students who are improving are on track to meet grade level expectations.
    4) Bethlehem Elementary earned an Index Score of 65.41 (down 14%). Bethlehem missed its Index Target of 74.66 by more than 9 Index points. 67% of its students meet or exceed grade level expectations. 55% of students who are improving are on track to meet grade level expectations.
    5) Triadelphia Middle School earned an Index Score of 64.42 (up 3%). Triadelphia missed its Index Target of 65.00 by less than 1 Index point. 77% of its students meet or exceed grade level expectations. 65% of students who are improving are on track to meet grade level expectations.
    6) Bridge Street Middle School earned an Index Score of 60.25 (down 7%). Bridge Street missed its Index Target of 62.16 by less than 2 Index points. 60% of its students meet or exceed grade level expectations. 53% of students who are improving are on track to meet grade level expectations.
    7) Warwood School earned an Index Score of 60.05 (up 3%). Warwood exceeded its Index Target of 57.82 by more than 2 Index points. 59% of its students meet or exceed grade level expectations. 50% of students who are improving are on track to meet grade level expectations.
    8) Wheeling Park High School earned an Index Score of 59.77 (down 2%). Wheeling Park missed its Index Target of 62.76 by less than 3 Index points. 51% of its students meet or exceed grade level expectations. Only 26% of students under grade level expectations are and on track to meet grade level expectations.
    9) Middle Creek Elementary earned an Index Score of 58.11 (up 2%). Middle Creek missed its Index Target of 66.85 by more than 8 Index points. 63% of its students meet or exceed grade level expectations. 48% of students who are improving are on track to meet grade level expectations.
    10) Elm Grove Elementary earned an Index Score of 55.44 (up 1%). Elm Grove missed its Index Target of 60.53 by more than five Index points. Fifty-nine percent of its students meet or exceed grade level expectations. 38% of students who are improving are on track to meet grade level expectations under the state average of 38.6% for elementary schools.
    11) Ritchie Elementary earned an Index Score of 44.74 (up 10%). Ritchie missed its Index Target of 60.18 by more than 15 Index points. 35% of its students meet or exceed grade level expectations. 20% of students who are improving are on track to meet grade level expectations under the state average of 38.6% for elementary schools.
    12) Wheeling Middle School earned an Index Score of 43.63 (down 17%). Wheeling Middle missed its Index Target of 56.97 by more than 13 Index points. 35% of its students meet or exceed grade level expectations. 25% of students who are improving are on track to meet grade level expectations under the state average of 32.8% for middle schools.
    13) Madison Elementary earned an Index Score of 33.68 (down 27%). Madison missed its Index Target of 74.66 by more than 40 Index points. 14% percent of its students meet or exceed grade level expectations. Only 13% of its students show improvement, 46 points lower than the state average of 58.9%. Only 11% of students who are improving are on track to meet grade level expectations under the state average of 38.6% for elementary schools.

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