Students fare well on new standardized test

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

At the Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting Monday evening, test coordinator Ruth Bland delivered good news about the results from the 2017-2018 West Virginia General Summative Assessment, which replaced the Westest.

The test was given last spring to third through eighth grade students in English/ language arts and math. Fifth and eighth grade students were also tested in science. High school juniors took the Scholastic Aptitude Test which is also known as the SAT School Day.

“Two brand new tests, so we have nothing to compare it to from last year,” Bland said. “This year, the WVGSA was what they called a single form test, so it was the same questions asked all the way across the board.”

The students did very well overall, with Marlinton Middle School achieving proficiency higher than the state percentage in all grade levels in all three areas. Hillsboro Elementary School third and fifth grades were both higher than state percentage in ELA and math; MES fourth grade higher in both ELA and math; Green Bank Elementary-Middle School fifth grade higher in both; and GBEMS seventh grade higher in math.

The juniors at Pocahontas County High School also did well.

“We tested sixty-five juniors and twenty-nine percent of them met both benchmarks for math and for evidence-based reading and writing,” Bland said. “For the state, only twenty-one percent met both benchmarks, so we knocked it out of the park for the SAT School Day.”

Bland added that she and math coach Joanna Burt-Kinderman crunched numbers and realized that the county is ranked in the top 10 in math scores.

“In the way of math test scores overall, for three through eight, we’re ranked tenth in the state right now,” she said. “Looking at the math scores on the SAT, we think we’re sitting somewhere at second or third place in the state on our math test scores. It is awesome.”

As Bland showed the board members test scores from past years, she pointed out that the reading/language arts scores are rising and said that trend should continue with the help of reading/language arts coach Stephanie Burns.

Overall, Bland said the teachers should be proud of the scores and congratulated them on the hard work.

“I know there will be people that will be somewhat disappointed,” she admitted. “There will be people that will be elated. There will be people that will be middle of the road, but there’s a couple of things we have to understand – the dynamics of a class, the chemistry of the children in the class are big indicators on how successful they are on the testing.

“Our teachers are doing a fabulous job caring for our children and educating our children,” Bland continued. “You also have to look at how many snow days we had and work stoppage days that we had, and we started making up those days after this test was complete. It is not about the quantity of time, it’s about the quality of instruction.”

The board thanked Bland for the report and shared their enthusiasm for the results.

In updates:

• Director of maintenance Ron Hall gave a report on several projects, including information on the recent bid search to demolish the old board office. Hall said he received a bid in the amount of $318,771. He said the issue with the building is that it has asbestos and removal of the materials will cost more than usual. The bidder informed Hall that hauling materials to the landfill alone would cost $100,000.

Hall said there is no way the building can be demolished at this time at this cost. The board agreed that the cost was too high, and it could not justify demolition at this time.

In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:

• Policy IH – Grading System for Pocahontas County Schools.

• To accept the following bids from Appalachian Signals and Products, Inc. for Cerberus Pro Fire Alarm System: Marlinton Elementary School – $23,000.64 and Marlinton Middle School – $23,845.75.

• Proposed fundraisers at Marlinton Elementary School, effective for the 2018-2019 school year.

• To hire Thrasher Architecture Engineering as architect for the Green Bank Elementary-Middle School Major Improvement Project.

In professional management, the board approved the following:

• Employment of E. Jamey Weber and Dondi Stemple as After School Tutors at Marlinton Elementary School, at $20 per hour, one hour per day, two days per week, not to exceed 26 weeks, effective September 26, 2018 through April 30, 2019.

• Employment of Jessica McLaughlin and Teresa Rhea as After School Tutors at Marlinton Middle School at $20 per hour, one hour per day, two days per week not to exceed 26 weeks, effective September 26, 2018 through April 30, 2019.

• Requested transfer of Jan Jonese from teacher of English/language arts at Marlinton Middle School, to teacher of English/language arts at Pocahontas County High School, effective September 26, for the remainder of the 2018-2019 school year, at state basic salary.

• Employment of Rosanne Zeni as After School Coordinator/career counselor/tutor for Pocahontas County Schools, at $25 per hour for a total of 60 hours, not to exceed $1,500, effective September 26, 2018 through April 30, 2019.

• Requested transfer of Steven D. Mick, Jr., from custodian III at Pocahontas County High School, to school bus operator for Pocahontas County Schools, at state basic pay, effective September 26, for the remainder of the 2018-2019 school year. Term of employment is 166 days. Term of employment shall be 200 days each year thereafter.

The next board meeting will be a Local School Improvement Council meeting at Marlinton Middle School, Monday, October 8, at 3 p.m.

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