CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Ninety-seven West Virginia schools have been singled out by the state for the gaps in learning among their students.
These schools, in 39 counties, were identified by the state Department of Education as having the greatest disparities in learning between different groups of students. Six are in Kanawha County: Capital High School, Elkview Middle, Holz Elementary, Ruffner Elementary, Sissonville Elementary and Sissonville Middle. Poca Middle School, in Putnam County, is also on the list.
The "Focus School" identification is different from the department of education's other, overarching performance indicator, the "Priority School" designation.
That indicator looks at overall performance of a school's entire population to identify schools with low performance and a historical lack of progress over three years. (Three elementary schools in Kanawha County have been identified as priority schools: J.E. Robbins, Watts and Mary C. Snow West Side.)
These distinctions come with West Virginia's new state-developed plan for its education system. That plan is being implemented across the board since federal education officials accepted West Virginia's request for a waiver that allows it to ignore much of the federal education law known as No Child Left Behind.
Under No Child Left Behind, the Bush administration's sweeping 2001 education law, schools were said to have made "Adequate Yearly Progress" or not. That method was intended to hold schools accountable for students' progress but is now largely seen as too rigid and impractical.
Now that West Virginia's home-grown evaluation system is taking over, schools will be judged on several factors: achievement, growth, the gap between subgroups of students and the general student population, attendance and dropout rates.