Exceeding All Benchmarks
At West Virginia Academy, our student outcomes in the 2022-23 academic year, our startup year, exceeded all benchmark schools and districts on average based on state testing and student success measures. More specifically, our student outcomes exceeded both Monongalia and Preston Counties in two categories (English Progress and Attendance) and our students performed at a similar level to both districts in three categories (English Proficiency, Mathematics Progress, and Behavior). Monongalia County exceeded WVA in math proficiency, although WVA was only very slightly below the threshold. Even though our students are already exceeding their peers at benchmark schools, our mission as a school is to have our students meeting or exceeding standards in all measured categories within our first five years and we are already well on our way to making that happen.
A full breakdown of student performance in each category by West Virginia Academy and its benchmarks is provided in the chart below:
Important Considerations for Interpreting Student Outcomes
While exceeding benchmark schools, on average, in our very first year of operations was a significant achievement for both our students and our school, the 2022-23 student outcomes actually understate the progress for two important reasons.
First, the student progress and student success measures, where WVA performed the strongest, are a more important measure of the quality of a school in its early years because these measures track student learning and outcomes over a shorter window of time. The achievement numbers that account for two of the six categories tend to be more a reflection of the quality of the students a startup charter school attracted. All of the WVA's students had spent less than one year at WVA at the time the assessments above were conducted, but most had spent multiple years in traditional public schools before attending WVA. So the student progress measures, which compare progress from the prior year testing to the current year provide a better indication of the quality of a schools programs in its first few years. Over a longer period of time, the student achievement data will tend to more closely reflect the student progress data as students spend multiple years in the same program.
Second, the methodology for aggregating data creates a downward bias against West Virginia Academy and the other startup charter schools. Statewide, schools are penalized with an absolute zero score for every student that does not sit for state testing that is registered at the school for a minimum number of days during the year. This applies even if the student is not enrolled or attending that school at the time the state testing is proctored. Startup schools typically have the highest turnover in the first year, but 2022-23 was particularly challenging because the Hope Scholarship came online in the middle of the year. During the first year at West Virginia Academy, a significant number of students had initially enrolled at WVA but then transferred to homeschooling, the newly available "hopeschooling," or private schools prior to the administration of our state testing. These students did not sit for the exam at WVA and were given absolute zeros that were then aggregated as part of the student outcome data above for the 2022-23 school year. Turnover naturally declines as a school becomes more established and our turnover rates are dramatically lower in our second year compared to our first year.
On the basis of the two factors above, we anticipate that our student outcomes will outpace the local school districts by a much larger margin in the coming years.