From The Charleston Daily Mail|
Reforms Coming In Fall
11 low-performing schools
see effects of Bush bill soon
Daily Mail Capitol reporter
Monday May 20, 2002
Some West Virginian parents will see the first effects of President Bush's education
reform bill as soon as this fall.
A committee of state legislators met Sunday to talk about the changes the bill will
require the state to make in its public
education system in the short-term and the changes that are further out on the
The Bush bill requires states to set up a new system for evaluating students,
teachers and schools.
Presenting the outline of the bill's effects Sunday, Assistant Superintendent Pam Cain
said it would require the state to
fundamentally change the way it does public education.
The first major change -- based on new school assessment rules -- will be felt when
students head for classes in the fall.
Eleven schools in the state have been tagged, because of their past performance, as
needing to improve, Cain told lawmakers.
Parents of students who go to those schools will have the option of sending their kids
to schools that haven't been marked as
needing improvement. The county will have to bus the students to the school of their
If the 11 schools don't improve after another year, the county will have to provide not
only school choice but supplemental
services like tutoring and after school programs to make sure students still get a
Under the Bush bill, if the years keep rolling by without improvement the state will
eventually have to take over the school and
restructure, Cain said.
Changes are also coming in what the state requires of its teachers.
Under the Bush bill, all teachers must be "highly qualified." That means they need to
have passed a state certification exam,
have a college degree and pass certain tests, Cain said.
Cain said 97 percent to 98 percent of West Virginia's teachers meet those
qualifications. The challenge is keeping the teachers
in state, she said.
House Education Chairman Jerry Mezzatesta, D-Hampshire, said that would take
some creativity. He suggested considering a
The Legislature approved a pay raise during its regular session this year that
averaged out to about $2,000 per teacher.
The Bush bill will also mean changes for students. It will require a new testing system
for evaluating their skills.
West Virginia was already working on such a system, Cain said. That puts it ahead of
other states, which now need to
develop new testing systems.
The level of annual improvement in test scores required by the Bush bill will be
difficult to meet, said Deputy State
Superintendent Bill Luff.
"Many states, most states, have looked at their achievement and said that's going to
be difficult, it's almost impossible," Luff