Kanawha County’s Kenna Elementary was the only West Virginia school last school year to score in the top category in every applicable measurement in the state’s school accountability system.
That’s according to Republican Gov. Jim Justice, who visited the school Monday and congratulated the students and staff there.
The school is located just off Corridor G, near Charleston’s South Hills neighborhood.
For most elementary and middle schools, the accountability system has six measurements (high schools have some different ones).
The first four categories — English language arts performance, English language arts progress, math performance and math progress — are based on statewide standardized test scores and the amount of growth in those scores seen when comparing one school year to the next.
The final two categories are attendance, which is based on how small a share of a school’s student body misses over 10 percent of the school year, and behavior, based roughly on the percentage of students that the school, during an entire academic year, never gives out-of-school suspensions to.
In each of these measurements, schools can score “Does Not Meet Standard,” “Partially Meets,” “Meets” or “Exceeds.” Kenna got “Exceeds” across the board.
The governor also recognized Jackson County’s Evans Elementary for getting an “Exceeds” in all of the standardized test categories and behavior, but not attendance.
“Not very often in this life are you going to end up the one school, the one person, the one champ, you’re not going to end up that very often, so you need to be so proud, so, so proud of yourselves,” Justice told the Kenna kids.
There is a seventh category, measuring English language proficiency, for elementary schools that have a certain number of students from non-English speaking backgrounds. Kenna isn’t among the schools with that category.
Kenna Principal Leah Earnest said she feels a big part of her school’s success was actually not focusing on the testing.
“Our focus is on, you know, educating our students and helping them to become productive adults one day, and they have such a will to learn and we have such great parent involvement and amazing teachers, it kind of all comes together,” she said.
Research has consistently linked higher family income to higher student academic achievement. Last school year, Kenna’s percentage of “low socioeconomic status” students, according to the state Department of Education, was 26 percent, compared to 49 percent statewide.