CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When the new Edgewood Elementary School opens next year, it will have a new building, new principals, new teachers — and a clean slate when it comes to federal achievement standards.
When the $22 million building opens in the fall of 2014, two struggling schools on Charleston's West Side — J.E. Robins and Watts elementaries — will be folded into the new "school of the future."
Neither of those schools has been exemplary in the recent past. J.E. Robins hasn't made "adequate yearly progress" for two years. It's been four years since Watts met those same federal achievement standards.
Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, was at the heart of 2002's No Child Left Behind Act, president George W. Bush's sweeping education law.
The accountability standards measure children each year — mainly through annual standardized testing — to see if they're coming closer to proficiency in basic subjects. More students are expected to test better each year.
If a school fails to meet those benchmarks, it is subject to a number of increasingly severe consequences.
But at the new Edgewood school, even though the two schools being consolidated have been taking tests and measuring their own progress for years, the new school represents a clean slate.
Because AYP is based on progress from year to year, it can't be taken into account for two years after a school opens — one year to test students and measure a base score, and then another year before results can be compared to those early scores.
That's standard practice. It also happened when Mary C. Snow West Side was opened in 2011.
"My understanding is it's kind of a grace period while things are reconfigured," said Bill Mullett, director of counseling and testing for Kanawha County Schools.
Tom Williams is the school system's assistant superintendent for curriculum.