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Putnam schools lead state in yearly progress, board told

BUFFALO, W.Va. -- As the state Department of Education pens a request that federal No Child Left Behind guidelines be more realistic, Putnam County school board members learned Tuesday night that all but three schools in the county met the tough criteria. While Putnam County leads the state in adequate yearly progress (one component of No Child Left Behind) by almost 30 percent, three of four middle schools in the county didn't meet the standards, said Cindy Daniel, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.Students with disabilities -- one of the groups whose progress is measured -- fell short at three county middle schools. In two of the three middle schools, progress wasn't adequate in reading and math, and at one school, not enough gains were made in reading, Daniel told board members Monday during a meeting at the new Buffalo High School.However, information shows students with disabilities in Putnam lead the state in test scores and progress, Daniel said."Students with disabilities are held to the same standards as their non-disabled peers," Daniel said.The state Department of Education plans to request a flexibility waiver, which would change the way AYP is measured, Daniel said."The flexibility request would use multiple criteria to determine where a school falls in terms of progress. It won't just be a single measure," she said. "Those criteria would include proficiency rates and student growth, which I think is a much more valid indicator."There are more than 30 ways of making AYP and if you fall short in any one of those 30, then your school doesn't make it," Daniel said after the meeting.Still, information shows Putnam has improved its AYP from last year.
All of Putnam's four high schools and 14 elementary schools met AYP, Daniel said.Last year, three elementary schools fell short, and none of the county's high schools met the criteria because of graduation rates.This year, Putnam's graduation rate improved from 78 to 82 percent, according to Daniel.Board members also received information about county students' ACT exam scores, which show they are above other counties in the state's scores and in most cases above the national average."We're slightly behind in math nationally, but well above the state," Daniel said. "Our ninth-grade algebra scores blow the roof off any other county."Putnam Superintendent Chuck Hatfield said the county still has work to do. 
Information shows that 70 percent of students in Putnam are at or above mastery."That's just not good enough when you put faces on those numbers," Hatfield said.Reach Kate White at or 304-348-1723.
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