At the October 22 Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting, director of student services Ruth Bland gave a report on the county’s recently released test scores.
Students were tested in English/language arts and math, with results in performance value, as well as progress value. The schools were also rated for attendance and discipline.
“You will see in discipline, we are doing very, very well,” Bland said. “We’re meeting the standards. We are not below the state level when it comes to the assessments in English/language arts at Hillsboro, Marlinton Elementary, Marlinton Middle and Pocahontas County High School.
“[District-wide], we did not meet the state target of 56.9 percent; we made 53.4 percent,” she continued. “In math, pretty much the same. The state was 53.5 percent and we have 52.5 percent proficiency in math.”
Despite not meeting the state level, some of the schools have shown improvement in their progress.
“Hillsboro is making progress in both English/language arts and math, so they’re moving forward,” Bland said. “Marlinton Middle School is moving forward. Green Bank is not. They’re moving backwards. Marlinton Elementary has moved backwards somewhat, but not as significantly as it has in the past.”
The scores are: English/Language arts performance value – HES, 62.6 percent; GBEMS, 49.9 percent; MES, 50.3 percent; MMS, 58.8 percent; and PCHS, 50.5 percent. The state average in performance value is 56.9 percent.
Math performance value – HES, 56.8 percent; GBEMS, 47.4 percent; MES, 53.5 percent; MMS, 57.5 percent; and PCHS, 50.8 percent. The state average in performance value is 53.5 percent.
In English/language arts progress value – HES, 56 percent; GBEMS, 32.8 percent; MES, 32.2 percent; and MMS, 50.8 percent. The state value is 45 percent.
In math progress value – HES, 60 percent; GBEMS, 29.8 percent; MES, 30.5 percent; and MMS, 54.9 percent. The state value is 43.8 percent.
While the numbers may seem discouraging, Bland said it is important to stay positive and look at the reasons why the scores seem lower.
“We have gone down in math – not at the high school or middle school level – but at the elementary level,” Bland said. “We need to understand that they changed to Eureka math; they changed the textbook. They changed the curriculum, and they changed the way that teachers are teaching.
“Anytime you change any type of curriculum or you change your instructional strategies, it takes from two-to-five years to see an improvement,” she continued.
“We are in the second year of Joanna Burt-Kinderman working in those elementary schools. So hopefully, we’re going to see a gain in the math.”
English/Language arts is in a similar situation, with ELA coach Stephanie Burns working hard in the elementary schools to help teachers develop strategies to teach the curriculum.
“We’re making progress,” Bland said. “We’re going forward. Stephanie Burns has been working in the elementary schools with the pre-K through fifth grade teachers.
In the meantime, the teachers and board office staff will continue to work together to evaluate the test scores and see where improvements can be made.
Bland said there is an issue with tests in that if a child is having a bad day or misses the test day and has to make it up, the test score is not going to reflect their skill levels.
“No excuses though,” she added. “The bottom line is we need to teach. We need to teach the students. We need to do it appropriately and we need to do it efficiently.”
The board thanked Bland for the evaluations and said it plans to further evaluate the results to see how the administration can help improve scores.
The meeting, which was a Local School Improvement Council meeting at Pocahontas County High School, included updates from students and staff on certain programs.
The carpentry class gave the board a tour of the locker rooms they renovated, and the forestry students showed the new portable sawmill that was purchased with grant funding.
Also giving updates were students from the ProStart, gaming, engineering and computer science. Students shared information on current and future projects.
Senior Charity Warder talked about the National Honor Society, which has stayed busy offering assistance to the elementary and middle schools. The club had several beautification projects at the PCHS campus and was the winning water stop on the Greenbrier River Trail Marathon.
The board thanked all the students and staff for their hard work.
In personnel management, the board approved the following:
• Requested transfer of Cindy Wade-Price from itinerant special education classroom aide/bus aide at Marlinton Elementary School to itinerant special education classroom aide/bus aide at Marlinton Elementary School, at state basic pay, effective October 24, for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.
• Employment of Amber Arbogast as itinerant special education classroom aide/bus aide at Marlinton Elementary School, at state basic pay, effective October 24, for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. Term of employment is 147 days. Position may be abolished at the end of the 2019-2020 school year.
• Employment of Sarah Cover as itinerant special education classroom aide/bus aide at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, at state basic pay, effective October 24, for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. Term of employment is 147 days. Position may be abolished at the end of the 2019-2020 school year.
• Employment of Katie Broce as substitute secretary/accountant for Pocahontas County Schools, at state basic pay, as needed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.
• Employment of Daniel Ahern as school bus operator for Pocahontas County Schools, at state basic pay, effective October 24 or upon proper school bus operator certification/licensure, through the end of the 2019-2020 school year. Term of employment is 147 days. Term of employment shall be 200 days each year there after.