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InMyOpinion™: Balanced Scorecard—Where do we go from here?

The Free Press WV

The numbers are out; we know where we stand.

Recently, the West Virginia Department of Education and the West Virginia Board of Education released the Balanced Scorecard, West Virginia’s School Accountability System. Some of the results were expected, and others were surprising. The results require that we all take a close look at the numbers — statewide, county and school-level, and engage in the process to advance learning in our state.

When designing the new accountability system, we steered away from traditional models that place heavy emphasis on a single test. Instead, what we have in the Balanced Scorecard is a reliable, consistent tool that measures the whole child. We are looking at key academic areas, core components like graduation rates, and student indicators, such as behavior and attendance. These multiple measures give us a panoramic look over time at our educational system.

We know that the seeds planted years ago have led to increases in the state’s high school graduation rate, growth of its early learning programs and better behavior outcomes among students across the state. Now we are taking the same methodical, deliberate and sustained approach to make other improvements for our students.

Educators have responded to the Balanced Scorecard with energy, eagerness and a belief that together we can turn around weaknesses and overcome barriers to academic success. Work has already begun to address several challenges.

Recently, the WVDE launched a comprehensive campaign to improve math achievement, called math4life. West Virginia has had a math problem for decades, and we have now devised a statewide, comprehensive plan to address it. Each school district has signed a memorandum of understanding and has begun the necessary preparations to fully launch math4life this year. Districts will drive efforts locally with specific strategies and practices to enhance math instruction, while WVDE will provide sustained, research-based and structured support to schools, families and students.

We are also studying math certification for teachers. Nearly 30 percent of algebra classrooms in the state are taught by teachers without the necessary certification. We are crafting short- and long-term solutions to this problem that will ensure our students receive highly effective math instruction from qualified educators.

According to federal educational law, states are required to provide additional support for the schools that are in need of significant improvement. We have already identified 35 Comprehensive Support and Improvement Schools which will receive technical support. This will assist schools in implementing improvement strategies focused on advancing results on each component of the Balanced Scorecard. Additional federal dollars and resources are available to these schools, and county school systems are taking the lead on the improvement process.

One finding of the Balanced Scorecard that caught many by surprise was a serious problem with school attendance. While most schools allow for excused absences in certain instances, the Balanced Scorecard did not provide for such allowances. To meet this benchmark, students had to be present 90 percent of the days they were enrolled in school. More than 50 percent of West Virginia’s schools did not meet this standard, meaning that thousands of students missed more than 10 percent of their instructional days.

Our own data, as well as national research, reveals that students who miss more school achieve at lower levels. Poor attendance is further exacerbated among low-income and minority populations. Working with the state Board of Education, we will bring together a Blue-Ribbon Taskforce on School Attendance to tackle this problem.

School performance and student achievement are issues that require involvement from all of us. Families are encouraged to explore the data of their children, their schools and their districts. Schools and districts must continue to engage stakeholders to assist in building strong learning communities.

Schools have already set specific improvement targets this year, and we expect to see incremental growth. The journey is long, but with the proper support strategies in place, we will reach our destination of high educational performance.

The numbers are out; we know where we stand. Now let’s work together to advance academic achievement in West Virginia.

Steven L. Paine is West Virginia’s superintendent of schools.

This important news has potential for making significant progress in improving math and reading outcomes in WV.

It hinges on how quickly advantage can be taken from lessons learned in schools that excelled.

The WVBE could do an analysis of reasons for excelling and to quickly provide guidance information to other schools.

That is the way the private sector approaches problem-solving because chronic failures have consequences and the unfit are weeded out.

Dr. O’Cull could help if the WVBE is not responsive. There could be panels of individuals from excelling schools to make presentations at WV School Board Association meetings to explain what their schools did to make the achievements.

Comment by Why Reinvent The Wheel?  on  10.22.2018

There is reference to signing an agreement with the State for math4life for all WV school districts. What has Gilmer County agreed to do to fix our problems?

Comment by Agreements Matter  on  10.22.2018

GSC could make a valuable contribution to WV by doing a study to report on how grade and elementary schools with excellent results in math and reading did it.

Then, other schools could use the information as guidance instead of going it alone to reinvent the wheel.

With the Ed.D. expertise at GSC it would be a natural to take on the assignment. Dr. Pellett, would you back the initiative?

Comment by Opportunity for GSC  on  10.23.2018

There is speculation that the plan is for GSC to convert to an education center for low risk federal inmates. Is this something the County and central WV needs?

Comment by GSC's New Mission?  on  10.26.2018
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