By Jean A. Flanagan
Students, faculty and administrators at East Hardy High School were taken aback when the Hardy County 2016-17 standardized test scores were called “dismal” in the Aug. 30 edition of the Moorefield Examiner.
The Examiner article included a chart which showed the percentage of Moorefield, East Hardy and West Virginia students who were proficient at grade level, comparing students in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years.
In Reading/Language Arts, 63 percent of EHHS 11th-graders were at or above grade level. The state average was 50 percent.
In Math, 32 percent of EHHS 11th-graders were at or above grade level. The state average was 22 percent.
“First of all, proficient versus not proficient is not an exact determination,” said Assistant Principal Chad Williams. “What matters is how we compared to other students taking the same tests.”
[private] Williams also acknowledged a standardized test is a snapshot. It tells what a student can recall, on any specific day, more than a measurement of understanding or comprehension.
Leanna Bayse, Student Council President, said the math curriculum was changed in her sophomore year.
“Now we have geometry in 10th grade and Algebra II in 11th grade,” she said. “Before we had Algebra in 10th grade.”
While the Examiner chart only showed the percentage of student proficiency, Williams said EHHS 11th graders did far better than state average of those students who tested at mastery level.
“There were 12 percent of our students who achieved mastery in math,” he said. “The state average was 5 percent. That’s more than twice the percentage.
“On the other end, 37 percent of our students scored unsatisfactory, when the state average was 52 percent.”
The same was true for the Reading/Language Arts. Overall 63 percent of EHHS 11th-graders were proficient, whereas the state average was 50 percent.
“Twenty-nine percent of our students were at mastery level,” Williams said. “The state average was 18 percent. Fifteen percent of our students were unsatisfactory where the state average was 26 percent.”
Bayse pointed out that, because of their low population, one student does not equal one percentage point. “Each student counts for more than one percent,” she said.
“There were 41 East Hardy 11th graders who took the test out of 129 for all of Hardy County,” Williams said.
Some say students do not apply themselves to the end-of-year standardized test because it does not directly effect their grades.
“Our teachers put a lot of emphasis on the importance of the test,” she said. “It does reflect on our school.”
“We set high expectations for our students,” Williams said. “We are pleased that our numbers are significantly higher than others taking the test. We’re not satisfied or content with the results.”
Basye also said it was difficult taking a test on a computer.
“We were taught how to take a test on paper,” she said. “It was 8th or 9th grade when we switched. The tools, the calculators, are different than a hand-held calculator.”
EHHS Principal Jennifer Strawderman said there are usually Internet issues during test time. “The Internet goes down or the screen locks up and you have to start over,” she said.
Williams and Strawderman both mentioned the significant changes in tests over the past several years. There have been three different tests in four years. Next year will bring another change.
According to the West Virginia Department of Education, students in 11th grade will take the SAT as the statewide assessment in the Spring of 2018.
“Most students here take the ACT,” Basye said. “Scholarships and out-of-state schools require either the ACT or SAT.”
“It’s very telling about the test they administered last year,” Williams said. “The State Department of Education got rid of it.”