By Sarah Plummer
The West Virginia Department of Education has identified 32 low-performing schools to receive additional support and assistance.
These low performing schools, in the bottom 5 percent of schools in the state, include Summers County High School; Fayetteville Elementary, Ansted Elementary and Collins Middle School in Fayette County; Spanishburg School in Mercer County; and Southside K-8 and Mount View High School in McDowell County.
These schools have been designated “priority schools” within West Virginia’s Flexibility Request, which asks the U.S. Department of Education to be waived from certain aspects of No Child Left Behind for a period of time.
“When schools continue to perform in the bottom 5 percent of the state and aren’t showing signs of growth, they need help,” said state Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jim Phares.
“By identifying them as priority schools, we can help these education facilities do the right thing for their students. The priority schools designation shifts from just identifying schools as not meeting Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) to identifying schools and providing intense ongoing support.”
Fayette County Superintendent Keith Butcher explained that schools singled out as priority schools will receive assistance, not just for instructional support, but to improve school climate, school leadership and other areas that affect test scores and student achievement.
Summers County Superintendent Vicki Hinerman said Summers County High School has already begun adding new incentives for students to do well on the WESTEST, which currently has no effect on students’ grades.
She said students who do well on the test will have the chance to take an enrichment class while those who don’t will need to take a remedial test, pushing students to do their best on the standardized test.
Priority schools will receive a diagnostic visit from state representatives to identify weaknesses within the school. The state and school district will then develop a roadmap to success based on individual schools’ specific needs.
The West Virginia Department of Education and Regional Education Service Agencies (RESAs) will work collaboratively with priority schools and their county school systems to provide professional development and technical assistance to implement improvements.
After three years, a priority school can exit the priority status if it no longer satisfies the initial criteria and it demonstrates successful school turnaround strategies.
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