JACKSON COUNTY - The West Virginia Educational Standards Test (Westest 2) is a custom-designed assessment for West Virginia students. The individual content assessments measure a student's level of performance on clearly defined standards and objectives and skills.

Jackson County students grades three through 11 showed an over all upswing in scores from 2012.
In that year, students scored at or above mastery level in 12 of 18 subtests and this was improved to 14 of 18 in testing administered last May.

"We are pleased that we are showing an overall progression in our test results and we are always analyzing the areas where we need to improve. We look to give our students every possible resource available to help them achieve," said Jackson County Board of Education Superintendent Blaine Hess.

Student performance on Westest 2 is based on scale scores. The student's performance level (Distinguished, Above Mastery, Mastery, Partial Mastery and Novice) is determined by examining where their scale score falls on the approved scale score ranges.

For example, Jackson County fourth graders made great strides in math, reading, science and social studies. County students met or exceeded last year's scores while exceeding the average state of West Virginia scores in each respective subject.

Math is an area where county students could show improvement, collectively.
In 2014, Westest 2 will be surpassed by The Smarter Balance Assessment, which will be administered online.
In relation to the SBA, the organization announced on August 6 that Governing States elected Juan D'Brot of West Virginia to the Executive Committee. D'Brot is Executive Director of Assessment, Accountability, and Research for the West Virginia Department of Education.

Within the county, Federal Programs Director Janet Murray presented the Jackson County Board of Education a comprehensive Power Point presentation on Westest2 results two weeks ago and answered questions from board members about the testing process and upcoming changes. The board recognized improvement and analyzed weaknesses for area students, collectively.

Technology has allowed testing to be more efficiently administered and has served as a point of interest for students.
"I believe that technology has allowed students to identify with the process. It engages them and keeps them interested," said Hess.
While some taxpayers view technology as a financial conundrum of sorts, studies show that if harnessed properly, it can enhance learning while being cost effective.

The Center for Research and Reform in Education produced a study in 2012 titled: The Effectiveness of Educational Technology Applications for Enhancing Reading Achievement in K-12 Classrooms.

The study claims that the classroom use of educational technology will undoubtedly continue to expand and play an increasingly significant role in public education in the years to come as technology becomes more sophisticated and more cost effective.

Note: In the coming weeks, parents of Jackson County Students will receive individual test results.