The West Virginia Board of Education is expected to issue Distinction Accreditation status to Magnolia High School and Full Accreditation status to Paden City High School during their meeting this morning.
The agenda says the Office of Education Performance Audits recommends the action based upon the performance data and results of the Second Follow-up Individual School Education Performance Audits.
This follows both schools receiving negative reviews following initial audits in March 2011. A follow-up review in April 2012 cited five remaining deficiencies for MHS and three for PCHS. Now the only noteworthy deficiencies remain with the graduation rate and test scores at PCHS. However, the OEPA report is confident those will improve.
"There were significant decreases in student achievement scores in mathematics and reading/language arts and the graduation rate fell to 68 percent," states the report, but adds, "Teachers observed were providing effective instruction and students were on task. The principal and math teachers think the implementation of Math 1 will provide significant increases in the math achievement."
It further said, "Even with the special efforts of the school staff to improve the percentage of students graduating on time, the graduation rate for 2012 declined from 75 percent in 2011 to 68 percent in 2012. The staff is continuing to work on the problem and predict the graduation rate will improve to 88 percent this year. The achievement scores in math and reading/language arts were a monumental concern to the school staff. With the additional time for math instruction, math achievement scores are expected to show an increase for the current year."
PCHS Principal Jay Salva says the next reported graduation rate will indeed be 85.19. In fact, that could go up to 88.88 if the state rules to not include a dropout student who had transferred out of PCHS two years prior. Salva added that currently the predicted graduation rate for this year is 100 percent. "Right now we don't have any drop outs. So the next cohort is at 100 percent, but that could change," he said.
"I felt we had a good final review and we're definitely excited that we'll be at full accreditation," said Salva.
MHS Principal Kathi Schmalz is ecstatic about her school receiving distinction accreditation. This is an honor bestowed upon only 108 schools in West Virginia. And of those, only 19 are high schools.
"I am so proud of the work the staff has done," said Schmalz. "I believe we have the best staff there is. They truly care about their students."
The OEPA review process has not been easy. "It's been two years, almost to the day, that OEPA walked into Magnolia High School," said Schmalz. "The report at that time was devastating to all of us-mostly because we were such a hard working faculty." They didn't understand the poor review and so they set out to show that Magnolia is a continued tradition of excellence, in all aspects.
Schmalz credits a strong look at student data for the large turnaround in student achievement. "We look at the total student," she said, noting they analyze the data for each individual and determine how they can best educate and nurture that student.
She mentioned that MHS has met AYP every year. Their graduation rate is 90 percent, attendance rate is 94 percent, and the college-going rate is 65 percent. "Those are all telltale signs of a good, strong school."
When the evaluator came to MHS on March 1, Schmalz said he told her, "I knew this was a good school the moment I walked in."
Schmalz is also relieved to be rid of the accusation of bullying teachers, that was cited in the initial review.
This second follow up review said, "Most teachers in the school were interviewed by the Team with particular emphasis on the working climate in the school. A staff member who was very active in the accusations of bullying by the principal resigned early in the year. The "bullying" charges appeared to come from efforts by the principal and a West Virginia Department of Education school support contact who were working with this employee to increase effectiveness. No other staff member indicated any problem with bullying. The staff was very professional and appeared to be working well together as a team in their attempts to provide the best educational opportunities for all students. WESTEST2 scores provided evidence their efforts are paying off with improved student achievement. The school has had many activities this year to promote team building, leadership and collaboration."