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Education group applauds W.Va. for gains in graduation rates, early education

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Education group applauds W.Va. for gains in graduation rates, early education
By Bill Frye Register-Herald Reporter

West Virginia is improving its graduation rate, while earning more praise for its dedication to early learning.

The report, "Gauging Progress, Accelerating Pace" from the Southern Regional Education Board, details West Virginia's efforts to improve standards and student success as well other states in the SREB's region.

The report details the fact that West Virginia's high school graduation rate exceeded the national rate.

"This is a result of State Superintendent Michael Martirano's five year plan to get the state's graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020," said Kristin Anderson, executive director of communications and partnerships. "This is a reflection of the trend working toward that goal."

Anderson noted that from the 2012-13 school year to the 2013-14 school year, the state's graduation rate improved from 81.4 percent to 84.5 percent.

The rate has continued to improve from 2013-14 to 2014-15 from 84.5 to 86.5 percent, Anderson said.

Forty-seven schools across the state already boast a 90 percent graduation rate, Anderson said.

Contributing to that success is a recently implemented early warning system that alerts county administrators to students who are at-risk of dropping out.

The system tracks each student and identifies areas of intervention, Anderson said. The system has 45 different indicators that show students who are at-risk, the big three of which are attendance, behavior and grades, Anderson said.

The information is available to schools and provides insight to student trends well before the student even considers dropping out.

Another factor playing into West Virginia's improved graduation rate is the fact the state has increased the dropout age from 16 to 17, making it even more challenging for a student to fall out of school, Anderson said.

The SREB report also shows that West Virginia is one of seven states that serve more than half of its 4 year olds in state-funded PreK.

West Virginia's PreK program was one of six national programs that met all 10 of the National Institute for Early Education Research for standards of quality.

The Learning Policy Institute recently recognized West Virginia's PreK program in a report calling it the anchor of the state's early childhood efforts.