Twenty-four of the Northern Panhandle's 55 public schools failed to make adequate yearly progress last year, according to statistics from the West Virginia Department of Education.
Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, is the state Department of Education's means of determining how students are fairing in the classroom. Those standards are set on the federal level by the No Child Left Behind law, which has mandated that all schools meet federal curriculum standards by 2014.
As that date approaches, school officials in the Northern Panhandle said the standards have gotten much tougher to meet, resulting in low performance numbers on the WESTEST 2, the state's standardized test used to measure AYP.
Statewide, only 48 percent of all West Virginia's 692 public schools - 329 - made AYP last year.
In Brooke County, only three out of the district's 10 school failed to meet AYP, including Follansbee and Wellsburg middle schools and Brooke High School. The graduation rate at Brooke High School was 90 percent.
In Hancock County, Oak Glen High School graduated 88 percent of its students, but failed to meet AYP, along with A.T. Allison Elementary and Weir and Oak Glen middle schools.
In Ohio County, Superintendent George Krelis said despite the district's best efforts, growth at the level the state requires to continue meeting AYP is tough.
"There was a 16-18 percent increase in the baseline from last year to this year," he said. "We think we are pretty good at what we do, but that type of growth is a difficult thing to accomplish."
Though the district had 70 percent of its schools make AYP, it had 100 percent meet the requirements in 2010. Ritchie Elementary School, Warwood and Wheeling middle schools and Wheeling Park High School all failed to make AYP under the new standards.
Krelis said while the results are of concern, they also show major flaws in the way the state determines progress.
In addition to the timing of the test, which is administered in May, Krelis said the lack of student accountability can pose major problems.
"If a student has a choice between doing well on a final exam that they know will impact their grade or doing well on the WESTEST, the results of which they won't find out about until the following year, it can be very easy for them to not take it seriously," he said.