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Making sure every school excels

Just four of the approximately 51 public schools in the Northern Panhandle met or exceeded all standards set by state officials, according to results of the West Virginia Department of Education’s Balanced Scorecard evaluation.

That is not to say the other schools are not doing much that is right. A number are performing reasonably well — but the fact is that the vast majority do not meet state standards.

Throughout the state, county-level school officials are examining results of the evaluation to identify weaknesses so improvements can be made.

Unfortunately, that is an old story. Despite decades of concern about education, improving it all across the board has been only a promise.

We do know some schools and some county school systems do better than others. For example, here in the Northern Panhandle, all the elementary schools in Ohio and Tyler counties at least partially met each of the six standards set by the state.

In Hancock and Brooke counties, a few of the schools met, or partially met, some of the standards, but none met all of them.

Just four schools in the six counties were found to have met or exceeded all state standards. They were Glen Dale Elementary School in Marshall County and Bethlehem, Ritchie and Steenrod elementary schools in Ohio County.

Obvious questions raised by that include:

¯ What are these four school communities doing that others are not? Notice the expanded view of eduation. Students excel when everyone is involved — their teachers, school support personnel, parents and even the community at large become engaged and effective.

¯ Why do elementary schools seem to perform better than those serving higher grades?

There is no magic wand to wave over school systems and make them all perform as hoped. Surely we can do better than we have, however.

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