CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Every public school in each of West Virginia's 55 counties will soon get a visit from the state Department of Education.
James Phares, superintendent of the Department of Education, said a team will be dispatched in the coming months to audit each of the state's schools to determine where they will fall in an A-F grading system. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin proposed such a system for West Virginia's schools earlier this month during his State of the State address. The new grading system is expected to be implemented in the fall.
"Not every school has ever had a visit to outline some of these things," said Senate Education Committee chairman Bob Plymale, D-Wayne. "So it's a clear pathway so they'll have some idea of what's coming up."
Phares said schools currently are placed into five categories: reward, success, transition, focus and priority. But Phares said just because a school ranks highly in the current system, it doesn't necessarily mean the same school would score an A in the new system.
"There's not an overabundance of success schools," Phares told lawmakers, noting you "absolutely cannot" equate the new and old systems.
Instead, the new system will allow schools to share best practices so schools can improve based on what they see working in another system.
"When (team members) go into an A school, the team will have some things they can share with an F school -- these are some best practices," Phares said. "We're trying to get away from the 'gotcha' mark."
Students also will be held accountable for their performance. Phares said students will soon take end-of-course exams to determine how well they did in a course. Their scores on the exam would then be calculated into their overall grades for the course.
"I do know our teachers have asked for that for years - let's hold students accountable for their performance," Phares said. "This is a way to do that."