Initial Common Core Goals Unfulfilled as Results Trickle In

The Gilmer Free Press

Results for some of the states that participated in Common Core-aligned testing for the first time this spring are out, with overall scores higher than expected, though still below what many parents may be accustomed to seeing.

Full or preliminary scores have been released for Connecticut, Idaho, Missouri, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia. They all participated in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, one of two groups of states awarded $330 million by the U.S. Department of Education in 2010 to develop exams to test students on the Common Core state standards in math and English language arts.

Scores in four other states that developed their own exams tied to the standards have been released. The second testing group, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, is still setting benchmarks for each performance level and has not released any results.

Even when all the results are available, it will not be possible to compare student performance across a majority of states, one of Common Core’s fundamental goals.

What began as an effort to increase transparency and allow parents and school leaders to assess performance nationwide has largely unraveled, chiefly because states are dropping out of the two testing groups and creating their own exams.

“The whole idea of Common Core was to bring students and schools under a common definition of what success is,“ said Tom Loveless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “And Common Core is not going to have that.“

No Child Left Behind, President George W. Bush’s signature education law, requires states to test students each year in math and reading in grades three to eight and again in high school. The Common Core-aligned tests fulfill that requirement.

But they are significantly different from the exam that students are accustomed to taking. Rather than paper-and-pencil multiple choice tests, the new exams are taken by tablet or computer. Students also must show how they got their answer.

Field tests administered last year indicated that a majority of students would not score as proficiently in math and reading on the tests. So this summer, states, parents and schools have braced for the results.

At Los Angeles Unified School District, Cynthia Lim, executive director of the Office of Data and Accountability, said the preliminary results are “lower than what people are used to seeing.“ District officials are consulting with school leaders about how to explain that the results should not be compared with old ones. “I think we are getting richer information about student learning,“ she said.

Overall, the statewide scores thus far are not as stark as first predicted, though they do show that vast numbers of students are not proficient in math or reading.

In Idaho, nearly 50 percent or more of students tested were proficient or above in English language arts. In math, less than 40 percent were proficient in five grade levels. In Washington, about half of students across the state were proficient. In Vermont, English proficiency scores hovered below 60 percent and dipped to as low as 37 percent in math.

States using the Smarter Balanced tests are using the same cut scores but different descriptors. What is “below basic” in one state might be “slightly unprepared” in another.

Despite requests by the Education Department to make the results comparable, the Smarter Balanced test has four achievement levels; the PARCC exam has five.

PARCC Initially was a coalition of 26 states and Smarter Balanced 31; some states belonged to both. This year, 11 states and the District of Columbia took PARCC exams. Arkansas, Mississippi, and Ohio have since withdrawn. Eighteen states participated in the Smarter Balanced test this year. Of those, three states are abandoning one or all of the grade level tests.

Sarah Potter, communications coordinator for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, said frequent changes in tests and what students will be tested on has frustrated teachers and parents. The state participated in Smarter Balanced this spring, but lawmakers have appropriated $7 million for a new state-based assessment plan.

“We are losing that state-to-state comparability after this year, unfortunately,“ Potter said.

Aside from the defections, the exams have also experienced technical glitches and an opt-out movement that surfaced this spring.

Most states have not been able to release test scores before the start of classes, a delay that was expected in the exam’s first year, but nonetheless frustrating for some teachers and parents.

“From a high school senior’s perspective it’s gotta be really tough,“ said Renata Witte, president of the New Mexico PTA. “You want to get those college applications in and you need this information to complete them.“

~~  AP ~~

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Use the description above to search for the document it alludes to. If Mr. Ramezan would embed a link that would be great. You will find it connected to WV against common core. Do not hesitate to download and read.  It’s a nice little contract signed by and between Michael J. Martirano WV State Superintendent on January 14, 2015 and the Vice Chancellor and CFO of the Regents of the University of California on December 17, 2014.  It will be a learning experience on what the Common Core Consortium was really all about.

You will learn that the federal funds for the consortium (coded as SB for Smarter Balanced) originating out of the state of Washington ran out in 2014, that UCLA has become the fiscal agent and of the debt West Virginia has incurred. The annual fee calculation shown and agreed for 2014-15 was $1,592,839.75.  No need to worry, it’s broken down to 10 payments. They are to provide psychometric services and validity analysis (look the terms up) plus a few other products and services such as the test copies and the results. You will find they get access to all of our student information but as a citizen your access to even an employee list is restricted.

They are a vendor for Math and ELA, both copyrighted tests that cannot be changed without their own Governance Board authorization. Who’s doing Sciences and Social Studies in WV?  Who knows?  We know who doesn’t seem to care if it takes any work on their part.  We know the money always goes out of this state and never calls for citizen input until after a deal is done.
Approximately 34 pages never brought willingly to the public.  Read it. This is a different kind of MOU. The WV State Board has never honored one that they have signed with their own counties. They won’t have a choice in this one. As usual, neither did we.

By Lie by Omission  on  09.01.2015

It figures, we bought a test no differently than the WESTEST.  More expensive so it has to be better. The attraction was for two WV Consortium “members” to get a free trip twice a year. Probably find it hidden somewhere on a past WVBOE agenda as a nondescript attachment you’d have to write to get a copy of if they’d give it up.  WVBOE’s shameful SOP.

By Follow The Money  on  09.01.2015

Can you post a link to article?  I am unable to find it.  Thanks!

By where is it?  on  09.01.2015

This truly brilliant interception by the Intelligence Branch of the Resistance Movement (IBRM) demonstrates the high caliber of citizens working for school system justice in Gilmer County.

I support your underground gorilla movement and there are other buried employees here who do the same the best way they can. Most of our activity is through information leaks.

It is hilarious how top officials here claim that they never read the GFP, but when something similar to your intercept occurs they go berserk.

Common core public meetings being promoted by WVBOE members are a farce because they know what they are going to do in advance. What WV people think makes no difference.

Did it do any good when Gilmer County reps stood before the Board to plead for it not to pay the ridiculous price for the Cedar Creek property?

You know the answer as you see your new school being erected along the LK river where a flood could strike.

Have you seen anyone associated with the WVDOE being held accountable for mismanagement of the public’s school dollars? Never have, never will.

By MAD WVDOE MOLE  on  09.01.2015

Certainly there was no organization within 3,000 miles with experience in a more disparate world of thought regarding an essentially different in kind, contrasting, poles apart, student populace that could possibly have relevant experience with a real cultural comparison and provide assistance to improve WV education.

By California Here We Come?  on  09.01.2015

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G-Eye™: Gilmer County Commission Regular Meeting Report - 08.21.15

The Gilmer Free Press
August 21, 2015 @ 9:00 AM
Gilmer County Courthouse – Commission Office
10 Howard Street, Glenville, WV

[x] This number indicates the order meeting was conducted.

[1]    I. CALL TO ORDER - All Commissioners + County Clerk + Dave Ramezan were Present.





[12]                  9:15   Cindy Wilson-Finalize the EMS Grants - She presented the last document she was contracted to work on for signature. This document was for the $10,000.00 EMS grant requesting the final payment. She indicated two checks for the amounts of $1,053.12 and $1,647.87 needed to be written to reimburse the EMS since they had paid for the project. Overall the total cost of the project was about $200 over the grant amount.

[21]                  10:00   Gary Wolfe and Karen Elkin & Attorney - Personnel Issues - Please watch the Video about the concerns over commission giving pay raise while eliminating positions for balancing the budget.


      Discussion and/or action on:

[4]                  1) Exonerations and/or Consolidations were approved.

[5]                  2) Approved Estate Qualifications and Estate Settlements

[6]                  3)  Board Appointments and/or Resignations: 

                    a)  Board Seats open on the:

                          i. ** Unsafe Buildings & Lands Enforcement Agency - Dekalb/Troy & Glenville Corporation

                          ii. ** Ambulance Service- DeKalb/Troy

Also there is an opening on the Health Center board of Trustees.

[7]                  4)  Budget Revisions - Angel Ball presented several revisions to the budget for approval. They were approved.

              5)  Budget Control Report: NONE

[19]                  6)  Approved Invoices for Payment - Invoices for total of $53,788.81 were approved for payment. Jail Bill for this month was $25,905.

[8]                  7)  Approved County Commission Minutes of August 07, 2015.

[9]                  8)  Receipt of County Board Minutes:

                    1. Lewis-Gilmer E-911 Yearly Totals - Commissioner Bennett reported that the E-911 meetings are bi-monthly now instead of quarterly. Month to month in each county (Lewis, Gilmer).


[10]                  1. Fire Alarm System - Camel Technologies - County Clerk Jean Butcher reported that the alarm system is fixed now, but still it does not call the E-911 in case of an emergency. She also reported problem with the security on the door in Annex Building. Commissioners decided to sleep on it for the time being.

[11]                  2. USERRA-Uniformed Service Employment Re-Employment Right Act Claim-Prosecutor Gerry Hough responded to claim - The Prosecutor has responded to the Commission.


      Discussion and/or action on:

[13]                  1. Designated Handicapped Areas - Gilmer County Recreation Center - They are being take care of at $104 each. President Chapman felt the commission should pay for them.

[14]                  2. Parking areas lines painted - Gilmer County Courthouse - County Clerk Butcher reported the lines are no longer visible. She said she would help with the work. Already have the paint and they just need to borrow the machine from the college.

[15]                  3. Assurance Agreement- USDA - This is a requirement so the available grants can be applied for.


[18]      Sheriff Gerwig indicated he has been doing the bailiff duty. He asked for a part time bailiff. The funding is needed in the budget.

[20]    IX. EXECUTIVE SESSION AS NEEDED - Executive session was called for concerning budget!

[22]    Another Executive session with Assessor Wolfe concerning personnel.

[16]    Clerk Butcher noted the waterline project at Cox’s Mill was finalized and the last check was just received.

[17]    Clerk Butcher said the rollers in the scanner in her office did not work. She had a quote from CSS for $390 - Approved. She also had a quote for fixing hand railings for $225.

[23]    X.    ADJOURNMENT

NEXT MEETING: September 04, 2015

See What School ‘Reformers’ Are Missing

In their efforts to change the public education system, today’s school reformers pay close attention to things such as standardized test scores, graduation and attendance rates, curriculum standards and per-student cost. One thing they don’t talk much about — but that is a fundamental part of any effort to really help students learn — are the conditions in which young people live and spend most of their time. In other words, they don’t talk much — if at all — about student poverty rates.

For years, many reformers adopted a “no excuses” motto, meaning that nothing, including living in abject poverty, was an excuse for poor student performance in school if teachers did their jobs effectively. The notion that hunger or chronic illness or trauma could make it impossible for teachers to help students move the performance needle was rejected, and those who raised the issue were labeled as people who simply wanted to defend the “status quo.” (How it became acceptable to ignore the obvious — that needy kids need support services to do better in school — is a story for another time.)

Interestingly, a judge in California is considering an unprecedented class-action lawsuit arguing that the Compton Unified School District has failed to directly address the trauma that many students experience outside of class and that there should be accommodations made in school for this reason because it affects academic performance.

The Gilmer Free Press
This EdBuild map shows K-12 student poverty rates in 2013

Here is one map with student poverty rates in the nearly 14,000 public school districts around the country in 2013, the latest year for which there is complete information. It was created by the nonprofit EdBuild, which used Census Bureau poverty rates and then constructed an interactive map which you can find H E R E and see how poverty rates changed from 2006 to 2013.  According to EdBuild, there was over that period a 260 percent increase in the number of students who went to school in districts with poverty rates of 40 percent or more.  (That isn’t a typo. It’s a 260 percent increase.)

Meanwhile, school reform is still heavily focused not on getting kids wrap-up around services that they need to help them concentrate in school and have more stable, healthy lives at home, but on standardized test scores, which are used not only to evaluate students but their schools and their teachers too.

From EdBuild:

In 2013, there were 26.3 million students living in high-poverty school districts (those with child poverty rates of 20 percent or higher) throughout the United States. This represents an increase of 60 percent — 9.7 million children — since 2006. Even more alarming, there has been a 260 percent increase in the number of students in concentrated-poverty school districts (whose poverty levels are 40 percent or above). These concentrated-poverty areas pose heightened risks to child well-being and opportunity.

Why does it matter? From EdBuild:

While individual poverty matters a great deal on its own, community context is important as well. Students in high-poverty areas (20%+) are especially disadvantaged, even more so than low-income children who live in more affluent areas. They are less likely to have qualified or experienced teachers. They need additional in-school supports, like nutrition assistance and heightened guidance counseling.

Students in concentrated poverty are generally consigned to even more significant opportunity challenges. They are more likely to be exposed to violence in the home or their community.

Our schools should be well equipped to address these additional needs in order to expand opportunities for children. In the case of children living in high or concentrated poverty, that means schools need more resources to level the playing field. Unfortunately, most students in high-poverty districts actually receive less funding. Nationally, schools in high poverty areas receive, on average, $5,500, or 29%, less per student than all other districts in the US.

~~  Valerie Strauss ~~

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Very troubling statistics.
Anyone know what West Virginia students receive for a comparison?

By reader3  on  09.01.2015

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West Virginia News

The Gilmer Free Press


CHARLESTON, WV - Governor Earl Ray Tomblin today announced the appointment of former State Senator David Nohe to the West Virginia Parole Board.

“From serving in his hometown community to representing constituents on a statewide level, David’s professional background exemplifies a life of public service,“ Governor Tomblin said. “I believe he will continue to serve the people of West Virginia well in his new role on the West Virginia Parole Board.

Nohe served as the mayor of Vienna from 1997 to 2012. He was elected to the West Virginia State Senate in 2010, where he served both as mayor and state senator for two years. During his time in the Legislature, he served on the Judiciary Committee for five years and was chairman of the Banking and Insurance Committee and vice-chairman of the Energy, Industry and Mining Committee.

“I am honored and appreciative of Governor Tomblin’s confidence in selecting me to serve the people of West Virginia in this new role as a member of the West Virginia Parole Board,“ Senator Nohe said. “This will allow me to contribute to developing and adopting polices that are cost effective while holding offenders more accountable. I look forward to working with my fellow board members and supporting justice reinvestment to increase public safety in our state.“

Nohe also served as a former detective with the Wood County Sheriff’s Department and attained a certificate of training with the United States Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Agency.

The nine-member Parole Board is an integral part of West Virginia’s criminal justice system. Senator Nohe succeeds James E. Colombo, who stepped down from the board in June ahead of his selection as mayor of Parkersburg.

West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office: Changes Are Coming for 2016 Election

CHARLESTON, WV — There will be several changes during the 2016 election process in West Virginia.

For the first time, West Virginia voters will choose their judges during next May’s primary election without any indications of political party affiliations on the ballots.

The state law allowing for nonpartisan judicial elections officially took effect in June. The change will apply to elections, by division, for the state Supreme Court along with circuit court, family court and magistrate court.

“That’ll be a big change for the voters. Now they’re not in the bulk of the ballot on the front where it’s partisan races. They actually shift to the back as non-partisan races, such as school board and different items like that,” said Putnam County Clerk Brain Ward, who spoke to MetroNews during a statewide election planning conference Monday in Charleston.

The conference was hosted by West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant at the Embassy Suites Hotel. Wood was one of many county clerks attending the two-day event. He said another change voters can expect in 2016 will be the doing away with straight-ticket voting.

With that voting, a voter can make one mark, either electronically or on a paper ballot and vote for a party’s full list of candidates. The change requires voters to consider each race individually.

“Because of the confusion with voters regarding the touch screens and the different buttons, I think it was important to make sure that when a voter hits a button, they actually know exactly who they’re voting for,” said Wood.

When it comes to voter registration, Wood said they are encouraging more young people to cast their vote. In 2014, he started a high school program in Putnam County where students were bused to the courthouse for early voting — something he said the county will be doing again next year.

“I think the earlier we get them involved in the process, the better off we’ll be,” he said. “My hope is that they’ll be voters for life.”

Wood said they are also working to better absentee voting around the state.

“We’ll do as close as we can to make it more accessible for those people, especially our military voters. If anybody has a right to vote, it’s definitely them,” he said.

The conference allowed local election officials from across West Virginia to discuss other legislative updates and planning for both the presidential and state gubernatorial election next year.

“The meeting of all the minds definitely helps out everybody in making sure we have a successful election in 2016,” he said.

West Virginia’s primary election will be held on May 10, 2016.

Missing man found dead in Ritchie County after apparent ATV accident

HARRISVILLE, WV — An Ohio man previously reported missing was found dead in Ritchie County after an apparent ATV accident.

Lee Salzwimmer, 68, of North Canton, Ohio, was last seen Sunday afternoon riding a red ATV in the Harrisville area during a visit, was reported missing and his body was found Monday morning at approximately 9:15 a.m. in a utility right-of-way.

At this time, West Virginia State Police believe his death was caused by injuries sustained in a wreck, but the official cause will be determined by the coroner.

Loss of rock could change ride through Gauley rapid

BECKLEY, WV - A whitewater industry expert says a rock formation change could give experienced rafters a different ride through one of the Gauley River’s most challenging rapids.

ACE Adventure Resort chief of staff David Bassage says a car-size rock at the Class V Heaven Help You rapid on the Lower Gauley is gone. He says the rock apparently broke off.

The rock was one of two located about 10 feet apart just before a pour-over.

Bassage says there’s no indication that the change will pose a bigger risk or hazard.

He says the last significant rapid formation change of this magnitude occurred in 1985 when a flood rearranged rivers in northern West Virginia.

The Gauley River rafting season is scheduled to begin September 11.

Did You Know?

The Gilmer Free Press

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday:


During his three-day tour of the far north, Obama plans to hike a glacier, talk with fishermen and tape a reality TV show to illustrate how warming temperatures are damaging the state’s stunning landscape.


So far, there’s no evidence of emails stored in Hillary Clinton’s private server bearing classified markings, legal experts say.


The violence erupted as lawmakers consider a measure to give greater powers to separatists in eastern Ukraine.


Pakistani authorities turn a blind eye to a meeting in the border city of Quetta, where Taliban supporters seek to reunite the group following Mullah Omar’s death.


The hapless folks who followed Wall Street’s advice to buy shares in emerging-markets have seen their investments lose 25 percent over the past year.


Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, who had argued her faith should exempt her from issuing same-sex licenses, has now run out of legal options.


The rap sheet of Shannon J. Miles includes a 2012 arrest that led to Miles being sent to a state mental hospital for several months.


The Wisconsin governor and GOP candidate had called such a barrier “a legitimate issue for us to look at.“


The shock value has largely worn off, since the 22-year-old former child star has posed for a handful of nude magazine portraits.


A judge announces he will make a decision in a day or two regarding the dispute between the NFL commissioner and the Patriots’ quarterback over deflated footballs.


The Gilmer Free Press

U.S.A. News

The Gilmer Free Press

Victims of Lead Poisoning Are Losing Millions

In the late-‘80s and early ‘90s, thousands of children living in Baltimore tenements were being diagnosed with lead poisoning every year. Two decades later, the Washington Post digs into the “little-noticed, effectively unregulated netherworld of structured settlements"—and the structured settlement companies that are making millions of dollars off these victims and others like them. While regular settlements are paid out in one lump sum, structured settlements come in installments doled out each month for decades, the intention being that such an approach safeguards against “vulnerable recipients” blowing all the money. Structured settlement companies offer these recipients that lump sum in exchange for them signing over their settlement. The payout is generally pennies on the dollar.

The Post tells of a 20-year-old woman with irreparable brain damage due to lead paint exposure who sold 35 years of her future checks—ultimately worth more than half a million dollars—for less than $63,000. Advocates for these companies say they provide people in need with fast cash for bills, food, and school. “We really do try to get people the best deals,“ one CEO tells the Post. Looking at that CEO’s company, Access Funding, the Post found it often pays 33 cents on the dollar of the current value of the structured settlement. But not always. One 24-year-old lead victim got only 9 cents on the dollar. Freddie Gray and his siblings sold their lead-poisoning settlements to Access Funding for 20 cents on the dollar. Advocates claim the victims are being misled and lack the mental abilities to enter into these agreements. Read the eye-opening article in full.

Obama Gives Mount McKinley a New Name

Looks like North America’s tallest mountain won’t be Mount McKinley anymore. President Obama announced today that Sally Jewell, the secretary of the interior, has renamed it Denali—restoring a name that Alaska Natives and state residents have used for years, Alaska Dispatch News reports. “I think for people like myself that have known the mountain as Denali for years and certainly for Alaskans, it’s something that’s been a long time coming,“ says Jewell. The “secretarial order,“ released the day before Obama’s three-day trip to Alaska, appears to end a longstanding battle between Alaska and Ohio over who gets to name the 20,000-foot peak.

A gold prospector christened the mountain in 1896 after hearing that William McKinley—not yet a U.S. president—had just won the Republican presidential nomination, the New York Times reports. But Alaska Natives had long called it Denali (which means “the great one” or “the high one”) and revered it in the creation story of Koyukon Athabascans, who have lived in Alaska long before the U.S. existed. For decades, Alaska has filed a bill every year to change the peak’s name to Denali and saw the move blocked by legislators in Ohio, McKinley’s home state. Ohio officials haven’t yet said whether they’ll try to block the name change, the AP reports.

Partying on the Appalachian Trail Raises Ire

When Jackson Spencer set out to tackle the Appalachian Trail, he anticipated the solitude that only wilderness can bring—not a rolling, monthslong frat party. Shelters where he thought he could catch a good night’s sleep while listening to the sounds of nature were instead filled with trash, graffiti, and people who seemed more interested in partying all night, says Spencer, who finished the entire trail last month in just 99 days. “I wanted the solitude. I wanted to experience nature,“ he says. “I like to drink and to have a good time, but I didn’t want that to follow me there.“ Spencer, or “Mission” as he is known to fellow thru-hikers, confronted what officials say is an ugly side effect of the increasing traffic on the Georgia-to-Maine footpath every year: More people than ever causing problems.

At Maine’s Baxter State Park, home to the trail’s final summit on Mount Katahdin, officials say thru-hikers are flouting park rules by openly using drugs and drinking alcohol, camping where they aren’t supposed to, and trying to pass their pets off as service dogs. Hundreds of miles away, misbehaving hikers contributed to a small Pennsylvania community’s recent decision to shutter sleeping quarters it had offered for decades. With last year’s release of the movie “Wild,“ about a woman’s journey on the Pacific Crest Trail, the number of people on the Appalachian Trail has exploded. But many hikers say the concerns are being overblown. “There is always a bad apple or two, but these are people that spend four to six months for a year on the trail,“ says an ultramarathoner from Colorado. “I can’t imagine them wanting to do things that would violate the wilderness.“

You Watched My Kid Die. Can We Do Something About Guns?

Early last Wednesday, we watched in horror as a gunman turned a mundane local news report into the live-television murders of reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward. “In recent years we have witnessed similar tragedies unfold on TV,“ writes Parker’s father, Andy Parker, today in a Washington Post op-ed: “The shooting of a congresswoman in Arizona, the massacre of schoolchildren in Connecticut and of churchgoers in South Carolina. We have to ask ourselves: What do we need to do to stop this insanity?“ For Parker, who has been vocal about gun control in the wake of his daughter’s murder, “the answer is: ‘Whatever it takes.‘“ He writes, “I plan to devote all of my strength and resources to seeing that some good comes from this evil.“

“I am entering this arena with open eyes. I realize the magnitude of the force that opposes sensible and reasonable safeguards on the purchase of devices that have a single purpose: to kill.“ He proceeds to name names: Virginia legislators who repeatedly refuse to implement “sensible gun reforms, such as expanded background checks,“ and Parker’s own state senator, whose district includes Virginia Tech and who ought to be painfully aware of “how easy it is for dangerously mentally ill individuals to acquire guns in the commonwealth of Virginia.“ Parker knows that enhanced measures like the gun-violence restraining order California enacted after a shooting there aren’t fool-proof, and may not have saved his daughter. But he recalls his last weekend with her, spent, as they often did, kayaking, as well as their mantra when faced with rapids: “Never stop paddling. You just have to paddle through.“ Click for Parker’s full column.

World News

The Gilmer Free Press

China, Russia Comparing Hacks to Flush Out U.S. Spies

The “high-level snooping” foreign spy agencies have been carrying out on US computer networks isn’t simply a matter of trolling for state secrets. It’s also a way to expose U.S. spies—as well as contractors who provide tech support—who can then be blackmailed and even recruited, the Los Angeles Times reports. And U.S. officials say those countries, especially China and Russia, have a sophisticated system to “aggressively” cross-index and aggregate hacked data, using everything from airline and medical records to social media accounts. The foreign agencies search for weaknesses (e.g., relationship, money, and health problems) that could make a U.S. intelligence agent vulnerable to exploitation. This multi-layered scrutiny can indicate “who is an intelligence officer, who travels where, when, who’s got financial difficulties, who’s got medical issues, [to] put together a common picture,“ the head U.S. counterintelligence official tells the Times.

This is a major reason why the Pentagon is poring over the Ashley Madison hack. “A foreign spy agency now has the ability to cross-check who has a security clearance, via the OPM breach, with who was cheating on their wife, via the Ashley Madison breach, and thus identify someone to target for blackmail,“ a cybersecurity expert says. Making it difficult to pin the hacks and data analysis on foreign states: Chinese and Russian officials recruit criminal hackers to steal the data, then farm out data analysis to private software companies to keep their own hands clean. For now, the National Counterintelligence and Security Center has a tip for vulnerable government workers: Use “extra precaution” if people “approach you in a friendly manner and seem to have a lot in common with you.“

ISIS Blows Up ‘Most Important’ Temple

The 2,000-year-old Temple of Bel was considered the most important temple in the ancient city of Palmyra, which is itself considered one of the world’s treasures, and it’s now believed to be rubble. Witnesses say ISIS militants, who seized the Syrian city in May, destroyed the temple with a massive explosion yesterday, reports the AP. “It is total destruction. The bricks and columns are on the ground,“ a Palmyra resident tells the AP. “It was an explosion the deaf would hear.“

The temple, consecrated in AD32 to the Semitic god Bel, was one of the best-preserved parts of the site and had intricate wall carvings, the BBC reports.

Trump says ‘no interest’ in buying Pope’s favorite soccer team

BUENOS AIRES SPAIN—U.S. presidential hopeful Donald Trump denied a newspaper report on Friday that he wanted to buy top-tier Argentine soccer club San Lorenzo, Pope Francis’ favorite team.

“Never even heard of the team - no interest!“ the real estate magnate and contender for the Republican presidential nomination, tweeted after the New York Post reported that Trump and an associate had sent a letter to San Lorenzo expressing interest in a deal.

Earlier in the day, the club’s vice president, Marcelo Tinelli, told Reuters in a text message that the story was “totally crazy” and that the team was not for sale.

Pope Francis grew up near San Lorenzo’s original stadium in Buenos Aires and has been a fan ever since.

San Lorenzo is one of the top five clubs in soccer-obsessed Argentina. Whether through soccer, the biggest sport in Latin America, or by other means, Trump might benefit from some connection with Latino voters in the United States.

He began his campaign in June by saying Mexico is sending criminals and rapists to live in the United States. The comment sparked anger from Hispanic civil rights groups and others.

Don’t Shoot the Test Score Messenger, WV

The Gilmer Free Press

Five long years ago, West Virginia and more than 40 other states adopted the Common Core standards in reading and math, setting dramatically higher expectations for students in elementary and secondary schools. Now we’ve reached a critical milestone in this effort.

Mountain State parents just received for the first time their children’s scores on new tests aligned to the standards, and taxpayers got a look at results statewide. The news was sobering.

Only about a quarter of middle school children are on track in math, and less than half are proficient in reading. The results were even worse for high school students. Though the scores may come as a shock to many, let us explain why parents and taxpayers shouldn’t shoot the messenger.

First it’s important to remember why so many states started down this path in the first place. Under federal law, every state must test children every year in grades three through eight and once in high school to ensure they are making progress. That’s a good idea. Parents deserve to know if their kids are learning, and taxpayers are entitled to know if the money we spend on schools is being used wisely.

But it is left to states to define what it means to be “proficient” in math and reading. Unfortunately, most states, including West Virginia, set a very low bar. They “juked the stats.”

The result was a comforting illusion that most West Virginia children were on track to succeed in college, carve out satisfying careers, and stand on their own two feet. To put it plainly, it was a lie. Imagine being told year after year that you’re doing just fine, only to find out when you apply for college or a job, that you’re simply not as prepared as you need to be.

Such experiences were not isolated cases. Every year, 70 percent of West Virginia’s community college students must take “remedial” courses when they arrive on campus. Many of those students will leave without a degree, or any kind of credential. That’s a lousy way to start one’s life.

The most important step to fixing this problem is to stop lying to ourselves — and to parents — and ensure our children are ready for the next grade, and when they turn 18, for college or work. Several national studies, including analyses of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), show that just 35 to 40 percent of high school graduates leave our education system at the “college prepared” level.

Considering that 20 percent of our children don’t even make it to graduation day, that means that maybe a third of our kids nationally are getting to that college-ready mark. (Not coincidentally, about a third of young people today complete a four-year college degree.)

The Common Core should help to boost college readiness — and college completion — by significantly raising expectations, starting in kindergarten. But we shouldn’t be surprised that West Virginia found that far less than half of its students are “on track” for college. In fact, that’s what we should expect. Mountain State parents, in other words, are finally learning the truth.

This is a big shift, and a painful one, from the Lake Wobegon days, when, like in Garrison Keillor’s fictional town, all the children were above average. But parents and taxpayers should resist the siren song of those who want to use this moment of truth to attack the Common Core or the associated tests. They may not be perfect, but they are finally giving parents, educators, and taxpayers a much more honest assessment of how our children are doing — a standard that promises to end the lies and games with statistics. Virtually all kids aspire to go to college and prepare for a satisfying career. Now, at last, we know if they’re on track to do so.

~~  Michael J. Petrilli and Robert Pondiscio - President and Vice President, respectively, of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and fathers of school-aged children ~~

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You can have all the tests and standards on earth but the truth is, if a child is not proficient in reading and mathematics by the time they are in the 6th grade, you have lost them.  Putting all the kids into one school, busing them, buying all the technology on earth does NOT make up for the lack of individualized instruction in the beginning.  Pre-school is not the answer, either.  Children are not robots.  Each child is ready to learn when he/she is ready to learn, not at age 3 or 5 or 7.  If the Amish can have proficiency in their schools, with teenaged girls as the teachers, then even teacher training isn’t the answer.  People are so far off on what matters, they have forgotten what constitutes education!  All the fancy buildings, technology and so on in the world will not cure the problem. Neither will testing.  Money is being thrown into the sewer on all of this, as none of what the state and federal government is doing will work.

By Karen Pennebaker  on  08.31.2015

Mrs. Pennebaker is correct. Money for correcting chronic education problems must be spent at the appropriate lower level because if we wait to middle school and higher grades while expecting miracles it is far too late.

Politics must be taken out of it. Look at what happened with new computer purchases for the GCHS.

Correct me if I misheard Mr. Devono say that a decision was made at the HS to use money slotted for the lower grades to purchase computers for the HS.

How was authority given to make that type of decision at the HS? It was clear that Mr. Devono had a computer seller lined up before he took his plan to the school board with appearances of a foregone conclusion to most that the decision had been made with an expectation for rubber stamping.

It even looked that there had been advance scripting by HS employees to be advocates for the purchases to stampede the school board into playing go along.

It looked like that the infamous later ambush was pre-planned too with prior approval from someone higher up. Who could that have been to be a willing party to attacking the school board by a school system employee?

We need administrators and board members with stiff backbones who will look at spending from a perspective of doing the maximum good for the most children at the earliest time possible.

More could be said about the State’s indefensible waste from the MH move when that money should have gone to do more good at the lower grades.

By Pennebaker Is Wise  on  08.31.2015

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ACT Scores Show More Evidence of STEM Deficit in WV Student Learning

The Gilmer Free Press

The common lament in West Virginia is that there are very few economic opportunities for young people. They are forced to leave the state because they cannot find a satisfactory job here.

There’s truth to that. West Virginia’s economic opportunities are limited. We have pockets of growth, but not enough of them.

However, there is another side of this problem which is less popular to talk about, but worthy of discussion and debate: Are our young people entering the workforce with the skills necessary for the jobs that are available.

Specifically, those are STEM-based skills—science, technology, engineering and math.

According to the National Science Foundation, “In the 21st century, scientific and technological innovations have become increasingly important as we face the benefits and challenges of both globalization and a knowledge-based economy. To succeed in this new information-based and highly technological society, students need to develop their capabilities in STEM to levels much beyond what was considered acceptable in the past.”

However, the latest ACT scores of largely college-bound West Virginia students show serious deficits in their STEM knowledge.

First, it’s important to note that ACT scores in math and science across the country are poor. Just 42 percent of 2015 high school graduates who took the ACT met the benchmark for college readiness in math, while only 38 percent made the grade in science.

West Virginia scores are even lower. Just one in three (34 percent) members of the 2015 graduating class who took the ACT qualified as having college-ready skills in either math or science.

The ACT scores come on the heels of the first Smarter Balanced standardized tests results in West Virginia. Just 25 percent of eighth graders, 18 percent of ninth graders, 15 percent of tenth graders and 20 percent of eleventh graders scored at the “proficient” level.

There is no Smarter Balanced test for science, so West Virginia used the old Westest to test grades four, six and ten.  All three grades scored lower than the previous year.  Sixth graders and tenth graders all scored better the four previous years.

We don’t have to worry about the best and brightest. They are building their knowledge base to improve their chances for successful careers. But what about the majority of our students who are simply not learning what they need to know to compete in the new economy.

The evidence of the deficit is growing, and now West Virginia needs a sense of urgency to find solutions.

~~  Hoppy Kercheval ~~

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When our county got its latest Westest 2 school rating results we rejoiced that our high school was in the highly prized success category.

A CPA on our board dug deeper to inform us that over 50% of the test takers were not proficient in math and reading to throw water on the first report.

Our superintendent obtained detailed ACT Plan test results. More than 70% of the high school’s students were not college and career ready for mastery of subjects tested on.

That proved that Westest 2 was a fraudulent grading system watered down by the State to mislead West Virginians.

Has your Gilmer County Board looked at the high school’s ACT scores to learn what is going on there? Better do it if you haven’t.

There is a good chance that similar to us, intervention did nothing to improve your test scores. In fact we are still recovering from the severe damage the State and its “experts” did to us.

By Ed Prichard  on  08.31.2015

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Common Core Town Halls to Start Tuesday in West Virginia

The Gilmer Free Press

West Virginia school officials this week will conduct the first of seven regional town hall meetings as part of their ongoing review of the state Department of Education’s embattled math and English standards.

The series of town hall meetings will start Tuesday in Morgantown at West Virginia University’s Mountainlair student union.

The standards have come under fire in recent years for being based on Common Core, which has prompted the department to launch a review to determine what, if any, changes need to be made.

The meetings will be used in conjunction with a review website that state Superintendent Michael Martirano has called a “statewide town hall.” On that website, each of West Virginia’s 900 math and English standards can be read and commented on.

By making each standard available for review and comment, department officials hope problems with individual standards, if they exist, can be identified.

The need for such a review was prompted by recent legislative attempts to repeal the standards over their ties to Common Core, which is a set of grade-level expectations in math and English that were created to make sure public school students across the country get the same basic education.

Developed in 2009 by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, the standards were adopted in 2010 by the West Virginia Board of Education. They were renamed the Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives.

State Senate and House Republicans, who claim Common Core is being used by the federal government to take over local schools, have tried to repeal the standards, but their attempts were thwarted when the principle bill failed to pass a conference committee on the last day of the 2015 session.

The department hopes their review will restore confidence in the standards and quell future legislative intervention.

The review’s public commenting period will be open until Sept. 30, after which responses will be analyzed before being turned over to committees that will recommend a course of action to the school board.

West Virginia University researchers are helping with the review and will analyze all public feedback.

In addition to Tuesday’s meeting in Morgantown, there are meetings scheduled to take place in Huntington on Thursday, South Charleston on Sept. 10, Athens on Sept. 17, Mt. Gay on Sept. 20, Wheeling on Sept. 22 and Shepherdstown on Sept. 29. All meetings will start at 6:30 p.m., except for those in Athens and Mt. Gay, which will start at 5:30 p.m.

Each meeting will last 90 minutes and will open with a brief informational session. The remaining time will be dedicated to answering questions submitted by those in attendance. Questions must be submitted in writing at the start of the meeting.

Department of Education spokeswoman Kristin Anderson said officials will do their best to answer all questions at the meetings. Should time run out, all questions will be answered and posted on the review website.

She also said all feedback gathered at the meetings will be given to the review committees for consideration.

For those who cannot attend a town hall meeting, comments may be submitted on the review website, which can be accessed by going to

Common Core was initially adopted by 46 states. Since then, at least 12 states have attempted to repeal the standards. Only three states have withdrawn.

~~  Samuel Speciale ~~

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Take a look at the Town Hall Meeting locations.

You will quickly realize there is some state BOE agenda going on here.

Locations do not represent the location of the our populace.

By taxpayer 3  on  09.01.2015

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West Virginia News

The Gilmer Free Press

Ruptured line cause of oil spill in Ritchie County creek

HARRISVILLE, WV - The Department of Environmental Protection says a ruptured oil gathering line caused a spill into a creek in Ritchie County.

Department spokeswoman Kelley Gillenwater says a cleanup could take several weeks.

Gillenwater says about 1,200 barrels of oil leaked from the line owned by West Virginia Oil Gathering on Thursday. Officials haven’t determined how much oil went into the creek.

She says the creek was dammed to contain the spill and the line was shut down.

Gillenwater says officials don’t know how long the line had been leaking.

Authorities investigate fire at former Fort Gay school

FORT GAY, WV - The State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating a fire that damaged a former school in Fort Gay.

The Fort Gay Fire Department tells multiple media outlets that the fire occurred on Saturday at a building that formerly was Fort Gay High School and then Fort Gay Middle School.

The fire department says the fire began on the building’s first floor and then spread to the second floor.

The cause of the fire hasn’t been determined.

Ex-jail guard receives probation for having sex with inmate

HUNTINGTON, WV - A former correctional officer who pleaded guilty to having sex with an inmate will spend three years on probation.
The 33-year-old Jason M. McComas of Lesage also must register as a sex offender for 10 years.

McComas had pleaded guilty in April to imposition of a sexual act upon an incarcerated person. He recently was sentenced in Cabell County Circuit Court. Judge Paul T. Farrell suspended a one- to five-year prison sentence.

McComas was charged with having sex with a female inmate at the Western Regional Jail on March 24, 2013, while working at the jail as a correctional officer.

Did You Know?

The Gilmer Free Press

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday:


Over the past year Hungary has become the most popular back door for Arabs, Asians and Africans to reach the heart of the European Union without facing further passport or visa checks.


That’s how a Nobel-winning chemist described Dr. Sacks, whose books like “The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat” compassionately portrayed people with severe and sometimes bizarre neurological conditions. Sacks died Sunday at 82.


When the pontiff arrives at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington in a few weeks, it will mark the first time in his life that he’s visited the U.S.


During the Great Depression, counties and cities in the American Southwest and Midwest forced Mexican immigrants and their families to leave the U.S. over concerns they were taking jobs away from whites despite their legal right to stay.


The 2,000-year-old temple was part of the remains of the ancient caravan city of Palmyra, seized by IS fighters in May.


By renaming the peak Denali, an Athabascan word meaning “the high one,“ President Barak Obama is making a major symbolic gesture to Alaska Natives on the eve of his historic visit to Alaska.


The man charged with capital murder in the fatal shooting of a suburban Houston sheriff’s deputy has a record that includes resisting arrest and disorderly conduct with a firearm.


About 500 people attended a ceremony for Alison Parker and Adam Ward, who were shot and killed while working last week.


In her first incarnation, she strutted on the arrivals carpet in barely there silver straps, shaking a long, rock goddess ponytail.


The players from Japan were down eight runs in the first inning, but the Kitasua Little League pounded out 22 hits in an 18-11 comeback victory.

U.S.A. News

The Gilmer Free Press

One College Gets Rid of Textbooks for Good

Lugging around big, heavy textbooks you’ll get next to nothing back on at the end of the semester has become a thing of the past at one Maryland institution of higher learning. The University of Maryland University College says it’s getting rid of textbooks for good this fall, directing undergraduates to free online resources instead, the AP reports; the move should save students thousands. As for grad students, don’t ditch those SwissGear sacks yet: Your textbook dump won’t come until the fall of 2016.

Neglected Horses’ Hooves Were 3 Feet Long: Rescuers

A concerned call about the welfare of someone’s pet pigeons led to a disturbing discovery in a Maryland stable: three horses in such a severe state of neglect that a local rescue group was absolutely horrified. “Of the over 2,170 horses DEFHR has rescued in its 26-year history, these are the worst, most extreme cases of hoof neglect the organization has ever seen,“ Days End Farm Horse Rescue says in a press release. The horses were found last week after a Good Samaritan alerted the Humane Society of Washington County, and the neglect was evident immediately, WUSA 9 reports. The gaunt animals, who officials believe hadn’t received proper medical care in at least 15 years, “could barely move.“

Their tangled hooves were more than 3 feet long—the group put a picture up on its Facebook page—while their stall was filled with piles of manure reaching as high as 4 feet. One of the horses had to be euthanized on the spot, while the two others had to be sedated so their hooves could be trimmed to allow them to be transported to DEFHR. As officials continue to investigate the situation to see if animal cruelty charges will be brought, the horses’ condition is reported as “guarded,“ per the station. They’re due for a further hoof trim and shaping and X-rays, and the organization is determined to do whatever it can to nurse the horses back to health, despite costs that could reach close to $2,400 a month per horse.

Baseball Fan Killed in Fall From Upper Deck

Tragedy in Atlanta tonight as a baseball fan fell from the upper deck during the Braves-Yankees game and was killed, reports 11 Alive. The man, believed to be in his 60s, fell from the 400 level about 40 feet and landed on concrete on the stadium’s first level, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It happened in the seventh inning as fans were booing Alex Rodriguez while he walked to the plate, and a witness thinks he knows what happened: “When they called A-Rod coming to bat, he got all excited, and his momentum took him over (the railing),“ the man tells the newspaper. Police are investigating.

Teacher Late 111 Times Blames Breakfast

An elementary school teacher who was allowed to keep his job despite being late for work 111 times in two years says that breakfast is to blame for his tardiness. “I have a bad habit of eating breakfast in the morning, and I lost track of time,“ 15-year veteran teacher Arnold Anderson tells the AP. In a decision filed August 19, an arbitrator in New Jersey rejected an attempt by the Roosevelt Elementary School in New Brunswick to fire Anderson from his $90,000-a-year job, saying he was entitled to progressive discipline. But the arbitrator also criticized Anderson’s claim that the quality of his teaching outweighed his tardiness.

Anderson was late 46 times in the most recent school year through March 20 and 65 times in the previous school year, the arbitrator said. Anderson said he was one to two minutes late to school “at the most” but was prepared and was never late for class. “I have to cut out eating breakfast at home,“ he says. Anderson remains suspended without pay until January 01, 2016.


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