(08/07/2006)
By Dianne Weaver

It is a complicated world for those who try to understand reports on the success of education.

States have a huge stake in the scores on their exams.

Now, the federal government has officially approved WVs standardized test that children in grades 3 through 8 and grade 10 take across the state every year.

The U.S. Department of Education has granted "full approval" to the entire system West Virginia has established to meet the No Child Left Behind Act.

The legislation requires every state to develop a program to monitor how well districts are teaching children.

A recent study by the Education Trust found that 71 percent of West Virginia eighth-graders were proficient or better in math according to the state's standardized test. Meanwhile, only 18 percent were considered proficient in math on a rigorous federal test.

Among fourth-graders, 74 percent were considered proficient or better in math on the state test. That's compared to 25 percent by the federal guidelines.

Education officials in West Virginia say comparing state and federal scores side by side doesn't take all factors into account. They say the Education Trust study is skewed.

Jan Barth, executive director of student assessment for the state Department of Education says "They're not looking at everything. You can't just compare the numbers."

"Our content standards and our test has been approved by the federal government," said Liza Cordeiro, state Department of Education spokesperson. "That cannot be ignored."

The Trust said it's up to each state to evaluate such information.


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