West Virginia Academy's student outcomes exceeded all benchmark schools and districts on average according to the WV Balanced Scorecard. The results from the 2022-23 academic year, the academy's startup year, are based on mandatory state testing and other student success measures. More specifically, the academy's student outcomes exceeded both Monongalia and Preston Counties in two categories (English Progress and Attendance) and its 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's students tested only very slightly below that threshold. Data for charter schools was provided by the state only for middle school students. 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 all benchmark districts and schools is a significant accomplishment, particularly for any first-year charter school, the student outcomes above actually understate the quality of West Virginia Academy's programs for two important reasons.
First, the student progress and student success measures, where the academy performed the strongest, are a more important measure of the quality of a school in 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 first-year charter school attracted. All of WVA's students had spent less than one year at the school when the assessments were conducted, but most had spent several years in traditional public schools before that time. Over a longer period of time the student achievement data will tend to more closely reflect the student progress data, which bodes well for West Virginia Academy's future student outcomes.
Second, the methodology for aggregating data biases against schools with higher turnover and startup schools tend to have much higher turnover in the first-year than established school districts. Statewide, schools are penalized with an absolute zero score for every student that is registered at the school for a minimum number of days during the year that does not sit for state testing. This applies even if the student is not enrolled or attending the school at the time the state testing is conducted. Charter school turnover was particularly pronounced in the 2022-23 school year because all schools were startups and because the Hope Scholarship came online in the middle of the school year. Last year a significant number of students initially enrolled at West Virginia Academy, but then transferred to homeschooling, to the newly available "hopeschooling," or to private schools prior to the administration of mandatory state testing. These students did not sit for the mandatory exams and were given absolute zeros that were then aggregated into the academy's student outcome data. As expected, student turnover has been significantly lower during the second year, which means this year's student outcomes will likely make a big jump.
On the basis of the two factors above, West Virginia Academy anticipates that its student outcomes will outpace the local school districts by a much larger margin in the second year with further improvement in the years to come.