Pictured, from left, are Upshur County Board of Education members president Dr. Tammy Samples, vice president Jan Craig and Sherry Dean at the BOE's most recent meeting Sept. 27. / Photo by Beth Christian Broschart

Upshur County Board of Education adopts goals; members discuss release of Balanced Scorecards, standardized testing

HODGESVILLE – Upshur County Board of Education members shared their thoughts about the recent release of the Balanced Scorecards by the West Virginia Department of Education.

BOE Vice-president Jan Craig said she has a hard time wrapping her head around how Buckhannon-Upshur High School’s scores are in the ‘Does Not Meet Standard’ category in English Language Arts and mathematics.

According to a WVDE press release, schools earn one of four performance levels within each indicator: Exceeds Standard, Meets Standard, Partially Meets Standard or Does Not Meet Standard.

“The math scores are way back from even being close to the line – but we have such a high graduation rate – those two do not correlate to me,” Craig said. “How can you not meet the standards, but still graduate? It just stood out very sadly to me.”

Upshur County Interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. Debra Harrison said the staff is focusing on the standards that will allow students to learn and master the concepts they really need to know.

“I think the rigorous curriculum design will help students,” Harrison said. “I think this is going to make a difference this year.”

Melinda Stewart, Interim Assistant Superintendent of Upshur County Schools, said they worked with teachers to help them understand if there is not a certified teacher in each classroom, they need to use the Rigorous Curriculum Design as a road map to get students where they need to go regardless of where their certification lies.

“Performance tasks and pre- and post-assessments are built to do just that,” Stewart added.

Craig said she did not see the correlation.

BOE President Dr. Tammy Samples said she takes a different approach when looking at the data.

“I am not a fan of one assessment dictating all of the work successfully in a school,” Samples said. “I am not a fan of us saying whether we are successful or not based on one instance, and maybe that’s because I am not a good test-taker. I am not good at taking standardized tests, but that does not mean I was not a great student and that I did not do well in my classes.”

Samples said the results are concerning.

“I will give you that it is concerning, and we need to continue working toward that,” Samples said. “But, also, in my opinion, it is just one measure – just one criterion. We should have multiple criteria. We collect a lot of data and do a lot of assessments in our county and for me, I think we should be looking at the entirety. This looks bad (the scorecard) and it goes out to the public – but it is only one measure and I am not a good test-taker and I would have been below the standard.”

Samples said another issue with the test is that some students do not take the testing seriously.

“Only about 10 percent of students take the testing seriously,” Samples said. “There are some things we have zero percent control over. It is problematic, but I think the issue is bigger.”

“I think it looks bad on our county,” Craig said.

“The public at large must take it at face value,” Harrison said.

“There is not a good answer until we change the way we do things,” Samples said. “That is, collectively, as an education system – not just Upshur County. We can work toward making our students better, but when we look at only one assessment [it’s not indicative of the entire picture.]”

Also, during Tuesday’s meeting, BOE members voted to approve the slate of personnel as presented, following a brief executive session.

BOE members voted to table appointing a BOE member to the Upshur County Parks and Recreation Board until their next regular meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022, at 6 p.m. at French Creek Elementary School after a new BOE member is appointed to fill the vacancy left with the resignation of former BOE member Patrick Long.

Finally, BOE members voted to approve their goals for the 2022-2023 school year. Harrison said the BOE came together with Upshur County School Directors to establish the goals.

“This allows a common focus and makes sure we are headed in the right direction,” Harrison said. “We talked about the students and the students’ needs and about the needs of the faculty and staff. We came together with several ideas, then we formed a subcommittee with Dr. Samples, Roy Wager, Melinda Stewart and Jody Johnson. They took all of the information we had compiled that were important pieces to having a successful year for the students and staff and to be able to show our students are making progress. They condensed those into three major goals that we all will be focusing upon.”

Samples said the overall theme was that Upshur County Schools will develop empowered and engaged learners through capital investment, stakeholder collaboration and an involved community.

The three goals are:

  • All students in Upshur County will be active participants in their education, will be provided opportunities for daily rigorous and relevant learning and will receive guidance in choosing a life path that includes becoming employable citizens;
  • All employees of Upshur County Schools will participate in meaningful professional development, empowering them to provide engaging, rigorous and relevant opportunities impacting overall student achievement in a nurturing environment; and
  • All families, businesses and community stakeholders will receive frequent communication providing an opportunity to engage in the development of and strategic support for the mission and goals of the Upshur County school system.

Samples said the subcommittee really tried to focus on students, employees and the community.

Wager made a motion to accept the goals, which received a second from BOE member Sherry Dean before passing.

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