Member's Press Release

Release Date: 12/07/2011
Contact: Sen. Robert Plymale - (304) 357-7937

Senator Robert Plymale

Report Gives Urgent Call for West Virginia to Improve Middle Grades

Charleston, WV – Senate Education Chairman Robert Plymale (D-Wayne) announced today that a new report says West Virginia and other southern states need to make immediate changes to improve student achievement in grades six through eight. Failure to do so could put an entire generation of students at risk for being unprepared to graduate from high school and succeed in colleges or careers, asserts the report released by the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) in Atlanta.

The report says that although students have made good progress in early grades achievement in recent years, when they reach the middle grades, they start to lose momentum and often reach ninth grade unprepared for high school courses; which leads too many students to give up and drop out.

This leads to 25 out of 100 rising night-graders in the SREB region failing to graduate from high school on time. According to the SREB, West Virginia’s average is marginally better at 78%, but is still well below the target goal of 90% stated in the report. This is a major concern, as recent research shows the fastest growing jobs in the years ahead will be those requiring a college degree or technical certificate.

The report lays out a clear roadmap for change developed by the 35-member SREB Middle Grades Commission, a panel of state legislators, educators and other policy-makers from across the region.

Senator Robert Plymale is on the Commission.

“Middle grades education is one of the most crucial policy issues we are currently looking at in West Virginia,” says Plymale. “We must improve in this area to strengthen the education pipeline which will provide skilled workers for tomorrow’s economy.”

Among other actions, the report recommends that states:

  • Focus the curriculum on literacy, science, technology, engineering and math
  • Give students most likely to drop out more learning time and accelerated instruction
  • Require middle-graders to create individual academic and career plans
To learn more about the SREB region’s or West Virginia’s progress in improving middle grades achievement, go to

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