A new system of evaluating public schools in West Virginia will be a welcome change for many concerned about education - providing it accurately reflects quality or lack of it.
A wealth of information about individual schools and districts is available through the state Department of Education's website, at wvde.state.wv.us. But some of it is difficult to put in context. For example, is it good or bad that 15 percent of a school's teachers have master's degrees?
Virtually everyone understands the traditional grading system used on students' report cards, however. A is good. F is bad. C is somewhere in between.
Beginning next year, public schools in the state will receive "report cards" with A-to-F grades of their performance. State officials say the grades will be based on student and school achievement.
But how will the grades be decided? Will that 15 percent of teachers with master's degrees earn a C? An A? An F?
As we have pointed out many times, many West Virginians assume their children's schools are doing a good job. Sometimes that impression is reinforced by evaluations by the state Department of Education. But when comparisons between schools in West Virginia and those in other states are made, perhaps through the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests, a different picture sometimes emerges.
It all may come down to the "grading curve" the state uses. Devising a fair system will be difficult - but West Virginians should insist it be accurate and honest.