Paine Says Educators ‘Gave Up’ Because of A-F Grading System

The Free Press WV

The public comment period ended Wednesday, August 30, for the state’s new way to measure education, the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Many of the comments received by the State Department of Education and heard in public hearings earlier this year had to do with the plans for a school accountability system.

State School Superintendent Doctor Steve Paine told members of the state Board of Education they are still working on a balanced approach for the accountability portion of ESSA.

“We’re trying to create a rigorous system that in totality will move student achievement forward for the benefit of all students in our state,” Paine said.

Paine said one thing’s for sure, the accountability system will look much different than the A-F school grading system approved by the previous state Board of Education. He said it caused a lot of negativity across the state.

“It was created by well-intentioned people but the unintended consequence, in my estimation, after talking with many educators and after serving as an interim superintendent in Wayne County and talking with our educators–is that they gave up,” Paine said.

Instead of A-F, schools will have a ‘balanced scorecard’ with four levels of classification: “distinguished,” “accomplished,” “emerging” and “unsatisfactory.”

Paine said those working on the accountability section are still trying to reach a balance on the exact components to be used to measure school performance.

“Where we set our performance levels (on things like) behavior, attendance, English/language arts. We want to set (performance thresholds) lofty enough that we’ll drive student performance up but we’re not trying to have the most rigorous system that is unattainable,” Paine said.

The current state Board of Education, with most of its members appointed by Gov. Jim Justice, voted in March to waive the A-F system. It was introduced in November 2016 following a 2014 request from then-Governor Earl Ray Tomblin. Under the system, school performance was based on how students performed on Smarter Balanced tests in math and English/language arts.

The system was heavily criticized. Most schools received a “C” during its first and only release because results were placed on a bell curve.

One county superintendent called the A-F school grading system “criminal,” Paine told school board members last week.

“That’s how strongly he felt and he’s one of our best,” Paine said.

All components of ESSA will be up for final approval by the state BOE next month and then it will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education. State Department of Education Executive Communications Director Kristin Anderson said Governor Justice is also currently reviewing the plan and must sign-off on it before it is submitted.

Yes, and in another year or two the grading system will change again.

And again and again and again.

The WV Board of Ed has played this gave for years, in order to ‘look’ accountable, but to escape any long term accountability.  Just keep changing the game.

Comment by ~the people know~  on  08.31.2017

This is why Gilmer County must go on its own way by setting high standards, deciding on ways to achieve them for all children regardless of their pedigrees and family net worth. Part of it must include real time, unambiguous progress reports to establish accountability for school system administrators and the County’s school board.

A-F was a hoax. A WV school could get failing grades for student learning to end up with an overall A or B. Any wonder that we were stuck at 50th place with that brand of State cover-up?

Comment by Gilmer--Go It Alone  on  08.31.2017

Read the Sept 1st Gazette article about four WV school systems with major noteworthy gains in student proficiency in mastering subjects.

The Counties were Doddridge, Mingo, Taylor and Wayne. The proficiency increases were related to factors including curriculum changes, improved planning targeted to achieving specific goals,and use of modern tracking procedures to monitor results.

If other counties can do it Gilmer can too with the smallest school system in WV. For starters our administrators should learn what the four counties did and to adapt the practices to our school system.

It was insulting for some officials to claim that Gilmer’s citizens do not understand what is going on in our school system, they do not care, and nothing can be done about it anyway because of our poverty.

Citizens know more than they are given credit for and if the excess levy gains a chance of passing changes for the better must be demonstrated to voters.

Comment by No More Excuses Accepted  on  09.01.2017

With the uproar about the excess levy passing again, it does not have a chance unless it is proven that a much better job will be done in managing the County’s school money than occurred during intervention.

For an example, why was new playground equipment purchased for the new GCES when perfectly good equipment at abandoned schools could have been used?

Comment by Concerned Voter  on  09.07.2017
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