(01/04/2002)
By Bob Weaver

Several West Virginia county school systems have excluded a large percentage of student test scores from the Stanford Achievement Test, making their overall scores appear to be higher.

About 24,000 students did not get counted, although some of them were not able to take the test "under standard conditions" or had disabilities or impairments which actually qualified them to be excluded.

The Stanford test is given to students in the 3rd and 11th grades.

A Charleston Gazette story indicates many counties around the state appear to have abused the statistical scoring. Roane County had a high exclusion rate at 17 percent.

Calhoun Superintendent of Schools Ron Blankenship said exclusions from the achievement statistics in Calhoun was only nine percent. He said those students had legitimate problems and were not counted. "I do not believe in inflating those numbers to make the situation look better," said Blankenship.

Twenty-two percent of McDowell County students were not counted as the State Department of Education recently took over the school system. The inflation of student scores was a primary issue, as the board hired former Webster superintendent Mark Manchin to straighten up the system. Manchin, however, had excluded twenty-one percent of students in Webster County.

County school systems have been warned by the State Department of Education to not exclude students except in cases where there was a valid reason.

Doris Weekley, Roane County's Director of Curriculum said nearly twenty percent of Roane students received special education services last year, and 22 students did not take the SAT test.


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