New look state school board dials back student testing, A-F school grading program

By Jeff Jenkins in News
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — There will be no standardized testing in English Language Arts and Math beginning this spring for 9th and 10th graders in West Virginia. The state Board of Education voted Thursday to remove the assessment. Now only 11th graders will be tested in those areas.

The move comes from the new look school board which is strongly influenced by Gov. Jim Justice who has previously said students are tested too much in the Mountain State.

The changes keep the state in federal compliance which requires testing at least once at the high school level.

The board also voted to move away from the Smarter Balanced assessment beginning with next school year, removed language from a previous policy that referred to end-of-course exams and changed the grade levels for the statement science assessment from 4 to 5 in elementary school and 6 to 8 in middle school.

“As a board, we are committed to finding the best assessment solution for the students in West Virginia,” state Board of Education President Tom Campbell in a news release. “With that goal in mind, our board will listen to the public and our state’s educators who always have students’ best interest at heart.”

The board instructed the Department of Education to “explore options to adopt another statewide assessment.”

The A-F grading system for schools also appears just months away from elimination. The board instructed its staff to prepare a waiver, which would eliminate the controversial system, to be considered at the board’s March meeting. It said it would also begin considering another school accountability system.

The A-F program, which came out for the first time last fall, has also been heavily criticized by the governor.

Since his inauguration Jan. 16, Gov. Justice has appointed four new voting members to the school board. Board member Beverly Kingery resigned earlier this week. With her departure and another vacant seat, Justice will have appointed six voting members to the body.