More students dropped out of Kanawha County high schools last year than in 2012, and fewer students received the Promise Scholarship.
But long-term trends paint a more nuanced picture: 180 fewer students dropped out last year than five years ago - 395 compared to 540 in the 2006-07 school year - and more students were awarded the Promise Scholarship this year than in 2011 - 367 compared to 307.
These figures and more were presented to the county school board Monday as accountability data have been reported from the last academic year. Officials say they'll continue to parse it in the coming weeks and months.
"I think we need to drill down a little bit further," board member Robin Rector said. "I don't want to leave out the fact that we might have some celebrations here, too. Too often we focus on the negative only."
Generally, it's difficult for Kanawha County to compare itself to West Virginia's other county school systems: it's the largest system in the state by a long shot, and a far cry from most of West Virginia's shrinking rural districts.
Still, Kanawha County students outperformed the state average on the Westest 2 - the standardized test that all schoolchildren take annually - in nearly every category.
Kanawha County's proficiency rate was higher than the state's in math and reading for every grade level. In reading, Kanawha County students showed growth over three years in every grade except 4 and 5. In math they showed growth or maintained the same level of proficiency in every grade except 8.
This is the first year the county has worked under West Virginia's new state-developed accountability system, instead of the federal system governed by the federal education law known as No Child Left Behind.
The new system places every school in one of five categories: success, transition, focus, support or priority.
In Kanawha County, 27 schools were named "success schools," the top designation, meaning they met all state benchmarks and made meaningful gains over previous years. Three schools - J.E. Robins, Watts and Mary C. Snow West Side elementary schools - were classified as "priority" schools, meaning they have historically poor performance.