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New school standards outline

by Nora Edinger

REGIONAL EDITOR

NUTTER FORT -- The state superintendent of schools visited Nutter Fort Elementary Friday to formally introduce to the region stringent new national standards for education.

The brief presentation on No Child Left Behind included the unveiling of a logo and Web site for West Virginia Achieves, the name for the in-state plan to meet the national benchmarks. State School Superintendent Dr. David Stewart is visiting a single school in each of eight educational regions during a two-week tour.

"No Child Left Behind is simple," Stewart told a group that ranged from fourth graders to education officials and politicians. "(It's about us promising) we

will do the best job that we can to prepare you for the future."

Stewart also briefly referred to the assessment and accountability portions of the new standards, which will basically grade each school in the nation by benchmarks such as standardized testing.

Schools that fail to meet benchmark minimums for two years in a row will be penalized in ways that can include parents being able to freely send their children to another school. The standards also can lead to the firing of school personnel.

After the presentation, Stewart said state Department of Education officials will tour West Virginia again in the fall, when they will know which schools failed to meet the standards for the 2002-03 school year. Right now, the state is waiting on test scores to identify which schools are going to need extra help, he said.

"It's not very difficult to miss the standards," he said. "It's pretty stringent."

Big Elm Elementary is the only school in the county in imminent danger of being labeled a "choice" school in terms of students being able to get automatic transfers out by this fall said Dr. Carl Friebel, superintendent of Harrison County schools.

It already has failed to meet the national standards for one year but its status is still unknown as test scores are not yet in for the second year.

In the meantime, both Friebel and Stewart encouraged parents to review the state's nationally approved plan on the new Web site: wvachieves.k12.wv.us/.

"We're just trying to put everything out there," Stewart said. "We want people to know."