The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

September 15, 2013

High five

The Register-Herald

— Forgive Raleigh County Schools Superintendent Jim Brown if he sounded like a bragging proud parent at last week’s Board of Education meeting.

He had just cause.

Brown told everyone there that among West Virginia’s top eight most populous counties, Raleigh students consistently met more targets in language arts/reading and mathematics, as revealed by WESTEST 2 scores.

They also had higher than average participation and graduation rates — another factor that figures heavily in the new West Virginia Department of Education ranking system.

Statewide, Raleigh students placed 10th in reading and language arts and seventh in mathematics, out of 55 counties.

Brown said he doesn’t want to get stuck on rankings, but he believed this was worthy of a pat on the back.

We agree.

Although it has been said that “teaching to the test” is not the best way to give students a well-rounded education, it appears that will remain the standard for the foreseeable future.

That being the case, it is heartening to see Raleigh students doing so well.

Brown said it is his goal to see Raleigh with a No. 1 by its name.

That is a worthy goal, one that won’t allow students and teachers alike to rest on their laurels.

Next year, Raleigh will be able to compare how its numbers stack up against schools and counties in 21 states.

That should give us a better gauge on how our students match up with those in a school district that may not use the same instruction methods as are used here.

We are proud of Raleigh and its students. But we know there is much room for improvement around West Virginia.

There are too many kids dropping out, too many who seem disinterested in learning. There are too many who stay in school but are still not proficient in English, math and other skills that make up a good education or let them enter college without having to take remedial courses.

Keep up the good work, Raleigh County, but keep on reaching for the top.