By Stephen Smoot
In his superintendent’s report, Charles Hedrick addressed the recently released West Virginia Department of Education’s Balanced Scorecard Report.
The scorecard divides numbers gathered from elementary, middle, and high schools across the state. Categories include “exceeds standard,” “meets standard,” “partially meets standard,” and “does not meet standard.”
Statewide, elementary schools exceed standards for behavior, do not meet standards for attendance, do not meet standard for English learner progress, partially meet standards for math academic progress, math academic achievement, and English/language arts, and meets standards for English and language arts academic progress.
West Virginia high schools overall fail to meet standards in math academic achievement, English learner progress, mathematics, and attendance, partially meet standards in English language arts academic achievement, post secondary achievement, and students on track to graduate, and meet standards on graduation rates.
County elementary schools generally outstripped statewide averages. They partially met standards in both academic achievement categories, as well as academic progress in mathematics and student attendance. English academic progress met standards and behavior exceeded them.
Also, ratings shared by Schooldigger.com showed Brandywine Elementary School as ranking 27th of 368 elementary schools statewide. All Pendleton County elementary schools placed in the top half of the rankings for the state.
High school numbers, which also include the middle school grades due to the combined facility, showed challenges in key areas. Both academic achievement categories, attendance, and post-secondary achievement fell just short of partially meeting standards. Students on track to graduate partially met standards.
Graduation rates, however, exceeded standards considerably.
Hedrick shared that many of the high school’s challenges reflected trends shown in high schools statewide. He said particularly that “math is not faring well” and “attendance is not faring well statewide.”
He then discussed ways that the schools and the system as a whole were addressing the challenges and working toward improvements. Hedrick shared, “We have had conversations. We are working on improving our benchmarks.”
Some of the issues in Pendleton County and around the state stemmed from the disruptions in education created by COVID lockdowns and restrictions. Hedrick said “we weren’t as prepared for remote learning as many counties,” but also discussed how limited internet access in many areas hamstrung teachers and students alike as they tried to overcome barriers.
Data also indicated that the scores came back better in the years prior to the pandemic.
One process that should help lead to improvement lies in use of data. Hedrick explained that “principals are meeting with faculty about data. Teachers are talking to students about data.”
One major change over last year saw the movement of Barbara Whitecotton from Franklin Elementary School principal to county School Improvement Coordinator. Whitecotton also served as a long time superintendent with Hardy County Schools before FES.
- P. Mowery, Pendleton County Schools business manager, noted that “Ms. Whitecotton is a force of nature,” always working the phones and holding meetings to address making the schools better.
Additionally, the school system has placed more of a priority on adding mentoring time and opportunities, especially for newer teachers.
“It will take us time,” said Hedrick, “but we have things in place to make that happen.”