West Virginia’s dismal rank among worst-educated states was reaffirmed recently by the annual Kids Count report, which indicated that roughly three-fourths of this state’s students fail to meet national learning standards.
Specifically, 79 percent of West Virginia eighth-graders aren’t proficient in math, and 73 percent of fourth-graders lack proficiency in reading. These sad results drag the Mountain State down to nearly last place in America, 47th among states in education.
State Kids Count Director Margie Hale told reporter Megan Workman that the low performance won’t improve until West Virginia makes greater investment in care, nutrition and health of children, particularly for tots long before school age.
“We know from economists that investing in young children (from) birth to three years old has the biggest (result) than any other investment the state could make,” she said. “I think one of the reasons we don’t do this is because the payoff doesn’t come in the election cycle. The payoff comes years later.”
Pre-school programs give tots a healthy boost — but two-thirds of West Virginia children miss this benefit. Only Arizona and North Dakota have less participation. The fact that West Virginia has America’s worst rate of teen births and lowest share of college graduates worsens the problem.
The Kids Count findings are the latest of many reports showing that West Virginia trails the rest of America in school achievement — and America trails many other advanced democracies. It’s discouraging. West Virginia ranks with Bulgaria in test scores.
As we’ve said repeatedly, education is crucial for success, both for individuals and for society around them. The economy can’t grow unless plenty of well-trained workers are prepared to cope with complex jobs in the mushrooming Information Age. And individuals can’t achieve good careers unless they’re loaded with required knowledge. …
— Distributed by The Associated Press