Saved By the Bell: Balanced Scorecard is Revealing for West Virginia Public Schools
High Graduation Rates, Low Math Test Scores
CHARLESTON — The latest report on how West Virginia high school students are doing shows a sea of red for math performance and needed work on English and Language Arts scores, even while graduation rates remain high.
The West Virginia Department of Education released its new Balanced Scorecard Thursday as a new tool to evaluate the performance of the state’s schools across multiple metrics, including math, English and language arts scores. It replaces a system that gave A-F letter grades to schools.
The department ditched that system at the urging of Gov. Jim Justice and replaced it with a system that now gives color codes to schools for a series of metrics for elementary/middle schools and for high schools.
West Virginia has 116 high schools with an enrollment of 81,609. The department used SAT School Day Assessments for grade 11 to determine academic performance of the high schools.
Officials also considered four-year and five-year graduation rates and student success criteria, such as attendance.
Categories are then given a color code based on the metrics. Green means the school exceeds standards, blue means the school meets standards, yellow means the school partially meets standards and red means the school does not meet standards.
Determining how schools are color coded for school performance is based on the percentage of points earned by students on a 125-point scale. High schools getting more than 80 percent of total points are in the green. Schools coming in 80 to 65 percent are coded blue. Schools coming in at 65 percent or less are classified yellow, while schools coming in below 50 percent are red.
According to the Balanced Scorecard, high school students statewide are in the yellow for partially meeting standards in English and language arts, but in the red for meeting math standards. The percentage of high schools partially meeting English and language arts standards was 57.24, while the percentage of high schools meeting math standards was 44.14 percent.
Out of 116 high schools tested during the 2017-2018 school year, 24 are in the red for English and language arts scores, but the majority, 81 high schools, are in the yellow. While no high schools are exceeding standards, 11 high schools are in the blue for meeting English and language arts standards.
The top five worst high schools for English and language arts in state are: Harman Elementary/High School with 39.73 percent and Tygarts Valley Middle/High School with 42.43 percent in In Randolph County; Hannan High School at 42.56 percent in Mason County; Meadow Bridge High School with 42.86 percent in Fayette County; and Valley High School with 43.03 percent in Wetzel County.
It’s an opposite story for high school math scores. Only one school in the state, George Washington High School in Kanawha County, was rated blue for meeting math standards set by the state. Out of the state’s 116 high schools, 102 were classified as red for not meeting standards.
The top worst schools in the state for math performance were: Mingo Central Comprehensive High School with 30.81 percent in Mingo County; Westside High School with 32.79 percent in Wyoming County; Man Senior High School with 33.06 percent in Logan County; Wayne High School with 33.70 percent in Wayne County; and St. Marys High School with 33.83 percent in Pleasants County.
Be Cool, Stay in School
School officials said they weren’t surprised by the high school math proficiency scores and have programs in place to bring those ratings up. However, they were taken by surprise by attendance rates in the state’s schools.
Looking at West Virginia high schools, the Balanced Scorecard defines attendance as the percent of students attending 90 percent or more of the legislatively-mandated 180 days of instructional days. High Schools with greater than 95 percent were classified green for exceeding standards. Schools with 90 percent or less were only partially meeting standards. And high schools getting less than 80 percent were classified red for not meeting standards.
Out of 116 high schools, 61 high schools were classified red, while 48 high schools were classified yellow. Only six high schools were classified blue for meeting attendance standards, and one school, Pickens Elementary/High School in Randolph County, was classified green for exceeding standards with 100 percent attendance. Combining all the counties, the state high schools are classified red at 75.86 percent.
Southern West Virginia high schools have some of the worst high school attendance, including: Logan Senior High School with 32.75 percent and Man Senior High School with 33.33 percent in Logan County; Sherman High School with 43.78 percent and Scott High School with 47.78 percent in Boone County; and Lincoln County High School with 49.26 percent.
The Graduation March
The one area where high schools come out looking good is graduation rates.
The Balanced Scorecard divides high school graduation rates into two categories: students who graduate in four years and students who graduate in five years. Schools with graduation rates in these categories of over 95 percent are in the green, schools that fall below 85 percent are in the yellow, while any school falling below 70 percent is considered red.
Combining all the counties, the state came in just below a blue category with 89.40 percent for four-year graduation rate, while the state’s five-year graduation rate is blue with 90.37 percent. Out of 116 high schools, 46 received a blue classification for meeting standards and 20 high schools were green for exceeding standards. For five-year graduation rates, 42 high schools were labeled blue, while 27 high schooled were labeled green.
Only six schools were classified red for not meeting four-year graduation rate standards: Capital High School in Kanawha County with 73.39 percent, Huntington High School in Cabell County with 74.17 percent, Mount View High School in McDowell County with 75.83 percent. Robert C. Byrd High School in Harrison County with 79.17 percent, Riverside High School with 79.57 percent, and Oak Hill High School in Fayette County with 79.69 percent.
Only five high schools were classified red in the five-year graduation rate category: Summers county High School with 71.15 percent, Hampshire Senior High School in Hampshire County with 75.98 percent, Huntington High School with 77.92 percent, Van Junior/Senior High School in Boone County with 78.57, and Pocahontas County High school with 79.45 percent.
While high school graduation numbers look good, data from the state Higher Education Policy Commission paints a different picture. According to a 2017 report, roughly 30 percent of high school graduates attending West Virginia’s four-year colleges and universities in 2016 had to be enrolled in remedial classes. According to the report 26 percent had to take remedial math and nearly 15 percent had to take remedial English.
The colors don’t tell the full story though. Go to MyWVSchool.org and click to look at individual county data. Some of schools with red and yellow classifications also sometimes have black checkmarks.
State education officials have set long-term academic achievement goals to reduce the gap between 2017 proficiency rates and 100 percent proficiency by half by the end of the 2029-2030 school year. Even if a school is listed in the red for not meeting standards, a black checkmark means that school is meeting its own long-term targets, with the goal of meeting state benchmarks by 2030.
These officials hope to use the Balanced Scorecard to help schools get out of the red and inching toward meeting state education standards.