By Bob Weaver

Calhoun Superintendent of Schools Roger Propst spoke to the Calhoun High alumni reunion over the weekend about poor academic outcomes experienced by county schools under No Child Left Behind, saying the schools have not been targeted by the state for special help, that performance levels are rising.

West Virginia has received a waiver from No Child Left Behind, now operating on an improvement model to reflect progress and achievement.

Propst said Calhoun has not being designated among 129 Focus or Priority schools targeted by the state, which indicates the local school system is improving.

The 129 Priorty schools are among the lowest 5% of performing schools in the state and Focus schools have significant achievement gaps between groupings of students.

"We're coming out of the hole," he said, "but we're still below West Virginia averages," discussing the loss of long-time teachers and seeking teachers certified in specialized fields.

Propst said Calhoun Schools increased its focus on student achievement and has implement numerous action steps, improving its state ranking in achievement from 55th place to 46th place of 55 WV counties.

"The Calhoun school district attendance rate has remained above the state requirement of 90 percent for the last six reporting years and Calhoun Schools boasts the 10th highest graduation rate in the state for 2011-2012," Propst said.

Propst said secondary reading percent proficient increased 18.4% over 2011 and secondary math percent proficient increased 19.2% over 2011.

Calhoun Middle-High School improved from a ranking of 115 in 2011 to 71 in 2012.

The ACT Composite score increased from 18.9 in 2010-2011 to 19.5 in 2011-2012.

Following problems cited by the state in the county's school finances, the Office of Education Performance Audits says that the Calhoun County Board of Education and the superintendent have the leadership capacity and the commitment to bring about needed improvements in student academic performance and make the necessary decisions to restore financial solvency to the county.

Propst says that the Office of Education Performance Audits recommends that the West Virginia Board of Education continue the full approval status of the Calhoun County School District.

The latest OPEA report on county schools is set to be released in August.

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