The West Virginia Department of Education has released the preliminary results of the 2016 West Virginia General Summative Assessment that state students took during spring 2016.
The results show that West Virginia students have made some small improvements in two key subject areas, but many students are still falling behind.
State Superintendent Michael J. Martirano is more concerned with what the data shows about student efforts in taking the tests, falling dramatically for middle and high school students.
"Data shows us that the students in the elementary schools in West Virginia spent more time on the test than students in middle school and high school students," Martirano said.
"In grade eleven, students spent only 196 minutes on the test versus the estimated time of completion, which is 450 minutes. That says something regarding effort," he said.
The small amount of time taking the test was "alarming."
The 2016 data shows that overall, 47 percent of West Virginia students are proficient in English language arts, an increase from 45 percent in 2015.
In math, only 30 percent of students are proficient, but that number is better than the 26 percent of students in 2015.
The one subject area West Virginia students tested worse was science with a one percent drop from 37 percent proficiency in 2015 to 36 percent proficiency in 2016.
Martirano says the state has a long way to go. In all three subjects, math, English and science, less than half of West Virginia students are hitting the 'proficient' mark.
Martirano believes that the numbers will improve if older students put more effort into taking the exams.
"Hard work matters," he says, "Students need to know the test is important to them."
State school officials are considering several approaches to encourage older students to take the testing more seriously and spend more time on the assessments.
They are considering telling parents how long their students spent taking the assessments.
