(01/15/2008)
By Bob Weaver

A November audit of Calhoun Middle-High School was reviewed with school board members yesterday evening by Superintendent Jane Lynch.

A performance audit was done on the school by an Education Performance Audit Team, which said, "the school's performance and progress are persistently below standard."

CM-HS principals also participated in an open discussion of problems with school board members, Lee Evans, Cynthia Dale, Joy Shaffer, Steve Whited and Mike Wilson.

The school, among many in West Virginia, failed to meet No Child Left Behind standards - Average Yearly Progress (AYP).

The audit standards are based on the federal No Child Left Behind law, which has several contentious requirements that sometimes do not apply to rural school populations.

Opponents of NCLB believe parts of the law are self-defeating and create a situation where schools cannot reach or maintain standards, while many teachers say it results in teaching to the test.

The school had scores below mastery in math and reading in grades 5, 6, 8 and 10.

Results from the 2006-07 West Virginia Writing Assessment revealed a deficiency in grades 7 and 10.

The audit team interviewed school personnel and administrators, observed classrooms and examined school records, finding a number of other shortcomings mentioned in the report.

CM-HS principal Karen Kirby presented a number of action steps currently being taken to correct the problems.

Superintendent Jane Lynch discussed the audit with school board members, saying the team will return to the school for a follow-up visit within a year.

School board president Lee Evans said "We are taking the audit very seriously," while board member Steve Whited said he believed the change from block scheduling to an 8-period classroom day could help the situation.

Lynch, who obviously did her homework, meticulously reviewed each shortcoming with board members.

The school has been issued temporary accreditation, pending further review.

The Herald obtained a copy of the audit from the state Office of Performance Audits, after Superintendent Lynch indicated it would not be released for two or three weeks.

The Herald, which did a Freedom of Information request with Lynch, maintained the audit document is currently public information, although the board should first have the opportunity for review.

"In the case of the Calhoun report, the report was presented at a (state) public meeting, which in my opinion causes the document to become public information and available to the press," said Kenna Seal of the Office of Performance Audits.

Schools, superintendents, and local boards can appeal parts or all of the report by provisions outlined in West Virginia Board of Education Policy 2320, if they believe the report in error, said Seal.

A follow-up story regarding the audit and corrective measures being taken will follow.


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