CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The 2016-2017 Smarter Balanced test results show Ohio and Monongalia had high proficiency rates in English language arts and math, while McDowell County ranked last in both subjects.
The state Department of Education released county-by-county test results last week.
Ohio County had the highest ELA proficiency rate in West Virginia at 57 percent. Kim Miller, Ohio County Superintendent of Schools, credited the strong student-teacher relationships.
“I think we do a really great job as to knowing our students and enhancing their achievements,” Miller said. “Our teachers go above and beyond.”
In all, nine counties tested above 50 percent proficiency in ELA. Those other counties include Monongalia, Marion, Grant, Hancock, Clay, Jefferson, Mingo and Putnam.
Monongalia County was at the top of the list for math scores with a 47 percent proficiency rate.
Putnam, Doddridge, Pocahontas, Hancock and Ohio counties also did well in math.
Only 33 percent of McDowell students are proficient in ELA and 21 percent are proficient in math. Nelson Spencer, McDowell County Superintendent of Schools, said that’s because they’re having a problem retaining qualified teachers.
“Nearly 1 in 5 of our teachers is either a substitute or they’re teaching in a field they’re certified in, so that’s a real issue for us and that needs to be corrected before you actually see large gains on any assessment,” Spencer said.
McDowell has seen growth in other areas, but Spencer said they’re always trying to adapt to different tests. He said it’s time for West Virginia to stick with one form of testing.
“I’m tired of chasing the test because the test changes so much,” he said. “We need to focus more on quality instruction than whatever test it may be.”
ELA proficiency was also low in the following counties: Lewis, Barbour, Webster, Lincoln, Upshur, Preston, Randolph, Logan and Wetzel.
These counties also struggled in math: Lincoln, Roane, Webster, Summers, Upshur, Randolph, Mason, Wyoming, Preston and Wetzel.
Putnam County tested well in both ELA (55 percent) and math (44 percent), but Superintendent John Hudson said one test does not measure their overall achievement.
“That data does let us know where we are. Perhaps it may let us know where we need to target for instruction or enrich, but we also look at multiple measures throughout the year,” Hudson said.
In general, West Virginia students are more profiecient in ELA than in math. Math scores improved in grades 4-8 and 11, but students are still testing at about 33 percent profriciency.
Proficiency in ELA is around 50 percent, but most grades didn’t show the gains that math did. Proficiency was 45 percent in grades 3, 6 and 8 to a high of 50 percent in grade 11.
Last spring was the final testing period for Smarter Balanced after the state Legislature passed a bill to eliminate it. The state School Board is expected to vote on a new form of testing later this year.