West Virginia group reacts to low test scores in reading and math among 4th graders

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CHARLESTON, W.Va (WOWK) – West Virginia 4th graders scored below the national average in reading and math on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. It measures what students in the United States know and can do in reading and math in grades 4 and 8.

The state was among only a handful of states to see significant drops in their average scores.

According to Kristin Anderson at the West Virginia Department of Education, the results show there is still work to be done.

Anderson said the 2019 scores fell on NAEP in West Virginia for several reasons. “Policy implementation takes at least three years to manifest itself and the 2019 results are a result of instability within the system from 2015-17,” she said. Between 2015-17 she said West Virginia’s public education system experienced mandated review and revision of state academic content standards,statewide animosity around the A-F accountability system, unprecedented state aid cuts and more.

She added that during the 2019 testing window there was a statewide work stoppage which she says contributed to a “poor testing environment”.

Representatives from the non-profit Read Aloud West Virginia call the results alarming. “Absolutely they are alarming and not entirely unexpected from what we’ve been seeing in the students and the families in this region,” said Amanda Schwartz the Communications & Development Director for Read Aloud West Virginia. “It is disheartening and concerning and cause for a greater understanding of the issue and a greater education of the public.” Read Aloud West Virginia listed the top three reasons they see for the low test scores in a release on their website.

The West Virginia Department of Education spokesperson said the opioid crisis has greatly contributed to poor attendance and poor performance by West Virginia students. Poverty has also been a contributing factor.

Anderson add that West Virginia’s NAEP sample included more students with disabilities than any other state in the country at grade 4 because of the higher percent of special education students statewide. She said that West Virginia’s largest critical need area is in the area of certification for special education teachers.

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