"WE'RE NOT MAKING EXCUSES" - Propst Defines Calhoun Education Problems, Retirements Have Taken Toll

(03/20/2012)

Superintendent Propst and Director of Improvement Carla
Taylor define action plan, "We're not hiding failures"

By Bob Weaver

In a broad-sweeping news conference, Calhoun Superintendent of Schools Roger Propst acknowledged critical problems in Calhoun Schools.

The county was 55th among WV counties in academic outcome under No Child Left Behind (Westest) standards with Calhoun-Middle High School failing to meet Average Yearly Progress for four of the last five years.

Arnoldsburg Elementary failed to meet the standards last year, a one time event, with Pleasant Hill Elementary and Calhoun-Gilmer Career Center continuing to meet the standards.

Westest covers math, reading and language arts.

"We're not here to make excuses...We're not hiding any failures," Propst said.

"I told the WV Board of Education (Wednesday) Calhoun will not be 55th again," said Propst, with Carla Taylor, Director of School Improvement, outlining an action plan to improve academic outcomes.

Propst, school administrators and board members attended the state board meeting reviewing the OEPA audit.

While No Child Left Behind standards have essentially flunked nationwide with "teaching to a test," Propst said it still comes down to student achievement.

Over 50% of WV schools failed to meet the standards.

With the State Department of Education, according to a recent state school audit, having more rules and regulations than most any state in the USA and many of the operating standards etched in West Virginia Code, "Making important changes come very slowly," Propst said.

Propst and administrator Carla Taylor acknowledged one of the shortfalls of Westest is related to students not taking the test seriously, a situation not peculiar to Calhoun Schools.

"The NCLB standards has a cut-line of failure, and sometimes Calhoun Schools have failed by one or two points," Propst said, indicating the Office of Educational Performance Audit system is moving away from a "gotcha" system to adopting a growth and improvement model.

Propst said, despite the failures, there was some academic improvement at Calhoun Middle/High School during the past year.

He said it is highly unlikely that the state will take-over Calhoun Schools, because of moving to a growth and improvement model.

A big issue, not only in Calhoun, is the retirement of long-time teachers, administrators and service personnel, from 2004 until 2012, who have retired representing nearly 1,000 years of service.

Propst said, "Calhoun is not a destination county," indicating hiring new professionals is a challenge.

Taylor said the system has obtained funds to help the professional development of 16 teachers.


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