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Upshur schools working to improve AYP standards

October 4, 2012
By Melissa Toothman - Staff Writer ( , The Inter-Mountain

Upshur County school leaders have taken steps to improve student achievement after learning that four of the county's nine schools failed to meet Adequate Yearly Progress standards on the 2012 WesTest.

Buckhannon-Upshur High and Middle schools, along with French Creek and Buckhannon Academy Elementary schools did not meet the marks required by the No Child Left Behind Act.

For Buckhannon Academy, it was the third successive year the school fell short of the mark, and the second year for French Creek. If a school fails to meet AYP for two or more successive years, parents are given the option to transfer their children to a school that did meet the standards. For Buckhannon Academy, those students could have been moved to Hodgesville Elementary School.

Union Elementary School, which met AYP, was unable to accommodate any additional students.

"You can't overcrowd a school," said Roy Wager, the federal programs director for the county school system.

French Creek students were given the opportunity to transfer to Rock Cave Elementary School or Tennerton Elementary School. Wager said one family chose to make the switch. Rock Cave and Tennerton both met AYP this year, after failing to do so in the previous year.

Schools that failed to meet the AYP standard are also being offered a choice of supplemental education services using Title I funds. Those services could come in the form of a tutoring agency or by a computer program used in the student's home.

"We offer a lot of trainings at the school for how they can help their kids, and that's through the Title I program," Wager said. "Then, we also for the teachers are doing a lot more professional development in the schools to improve their skills."

Three reading coaches and a math coach have been hired to help teachers. Wager said these "master teachers" will go into classrooms and act as a mentor in an effort to help teachers improve their teaching skills. The coaches will focus on the classes at French Creek and Buckhannon Academy.

Wager said the data received by the school administration indicated that the lower test scores typically came from students of low-income families. Low test scores at Buckhannon-Upshur High School also came from special education students.

"We try to work with the kids who are the lowest academically," Wager said.

Hodgesville Elementary School was the county's top performer on the WesTest last year, and Union and Washington District elementary schools also received top marks.

"Other schools have made a lot of strides," Wager said, "but they are not up to where those schools are."



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