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State BOE’s proposal needs further detail

September 15, 2012
The Inter-Mountain

Almost certainly, West Virginia students, teachers and education administrators have seen the last of the federal No Child Left Behind law. President Barack Obama's administration is handing out waivers from the law, providing states devise their own school accountability strategies.

West Virginia submitted a waiver request to the U.S. Department of Education last week. Again, it probably will be approved.

That will leave Mountain State educators without the burden of meeting federal "adequate yearly progress" standards - but required to measure up to a whole new yardstick of success.

Under NCLB, states must use standardized tests, usually of their own design, to gauge how well students are doing in specific subject areas. NCLB's requirement involves "proficiency" in individual subjects such as reading and mathematics.

West Virginia's replacement strategy does not appear to require proficiency as measured against other students, however. State School Superintendent Jorea Marple has said the state's system will measure students' growth from the beginning of each school year until the end.

West Virginians will want to know more about the proposal, of course. Presumably, details will be forthcoming.

But in essence, the plan seems to measure student achievement not against other students or research-based criteria, but rather against the students themselves. Such progress is important - but the need to measure up to the performance of other children in the United States and elsewhere in the world is critical. In that regard, Mountain State students often do not perform well.

Again, more needs to be known about the state strategy. But West Virginians need to insist it be a realistic program to prepare our young people to compete against others anywhere in the world.



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