County School State Exam Skills Increase Slightly with Some Decreases – The Morgan Messenger


by Kate Evans

Overall, Morgan County Schools students performed slightly better than the previous year on the 2022 West Virginia General Summative Assessment Exams they took in May. Reading and math skills have increased in most county schools.

The test results show students’ overall learning progress and continued recovery in student achievement after the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Morgan County Schools Assessment and Special Education Director Nicole Hiles gave a presentation on state assessment exam skills at the Morgan County School Board meeting on September 6.

Hiles presented three-year proficiency averages for all Morgan County schools in reading, science and math, also showing proficiency from pre-pandemic testing.

The average reading skills of Morgan County students in the 2022 tests were 37.03%, up 4.88% from 32.15% in the 2021 tests.

Average Morgan County math skills increased by 3.94%, from 22.18% on 2021 tests to 26.12% on 2022 exams. Science skills increased by 1.58%, from from 25.13% in 2021 to 26.71% in the 2022 exams.

Ratings

Assessments for in-state public school students include the West Virginia General Summative Assessments (WVGSA) for third- through eighth-grade students (reading, math, and writing), School Day SAT exams for 11th grade (reading and math) and the West Virginia Alternative Summative Assessment (ASA) for Special Needs Students in grades 3-8 and 11 (reading, writing, and math). Science exams were also taken by students in grades 5 and 8.

Students must be enrolled in the school system for more than 135 days to take the exams, Hiles said.

Ranking county vs state

West Virginia public school average proficiency on state assessment exams was 41.83% in reading (Morgan County-37.03%), 32.69% in math (Morgan County-26, 12%) and 27.71 in science. (Morgan County-26.71)

Morgan County Schools’ state rankings rose 14 places to 34th in the state in reading and jumped 14 places to 21st in the state in science, Hiles said. The county fell two spots to 40th in the state in math.

County Mixed Results

Berkeley Springs High School juniors achieved 53% English/language arts proficiency in May assessment exams, up slightly from 51.79% in 2021. However, math skills fell by almost 10 points from 2021 to 2022. Science proficiency increased by six points.

Warm Springs Middle School increased by 11 points in reading proficiency, eight points in math and five points in science from 2021 to 2022.

Warm Springs Middle School increased five points in math and two points in reading and one point in science.

Paw Paw High School rose three points in reading and five points in math. The school didn’t have enough kids to report science test scores, Hiles said.

Paw Paw Elementary increased math skills by 17% and decreased reading skills by 2%. Science proficiency dropped by 37%. Pleasant View Elementary fell 13% in math, 3% in reading, and 7% in science.

County juniors scored a total of 935 on the state SAT School Day exam, about 20 points higher than the state average total of 915, Hiles said.

Hit

Grade 11 at Berkeley Springs High School did well in English language arts, Hiles said.

Warm Springs Middle School saw positive growth in reading, math, and science, with an 11% increase in English/language arts skills.

Third grade knocked her out of the park with 49% math proficiency, she said. The fourth and sixth grades improved reading and math skills.

Paw Paw Elementary increased math skills by 17%. Reading, math and science skills were at or above pre-pandemic levels.

Science proficiency increased for the first time since 2018, Hiles noted. Reading had the biggest skill increase in the entire county. Math scores increased by nearly four points.

Improvement strategies

Intervention and improvement strategies are underway and include staff professional development. Hiles said the teachers were trained through the Capturing Kids’ Hearts program. Its goal includes strengthening the bond between students and teachers, improving school culture, and promoting trauma-informed care.

New reference programs (IXL and HMH) are used and Read 180, Systems 44 and Reflex Math for fluency have been implemented. The writing curriculum is under review along with state testing benchmark practices. Academic, technology and special/behavioral education coaches are critical to closing the gaps in student achievement, she said.

State Assessment Examination Reports were sent home to parents with students on Thursday, September 8. State PowerPoint resources are available to explain the WVGSA, ASA, and SAT School Day reports to parents.

Officials weigh in

A West Virginia Board of Education press release regarding the state’s assessment results acknowledged slight increases in skills across the state and said substantial improvement was needed.

“We have work to do. Some of these skill rates are not acceptable. We need to get kids back to higher skill levels,” West Virginia Board of Education President L. Paul Hardesty said in an Aug. 10 news release.

Morgan County School Superintendent Kristen Tuttle said she was pleased with the overall increase in reading, math and science skills, but agreed there was still work to be done .

Morgan County school improvement strategies include targeted interventions, academic coaches and interventionists, new programs, educational software and materials, online tutoring, and after-school and summer programs. New benchmark tests will monitor student progress.

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