Extremely low test scores, constant fights, and more plague Martinsburg North Middle School as state Board of Ed steps in

08 May 2024- The West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) issued a State of Emergency for Martinsburg North Middle School (MNMS) in Berkeley County during the Board’s May meeting today. The decision comes after a Targeted School Environment Assessment by the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) Division of District and School Accountability.

MNMS is one of 21 schools in West Virginia identified for Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) in the 2022-2023 school year. Identified schools represent the state’s lowest-performing schools and receive intensive support and technical assistance from the WVDE to address critical areas of need.

On Wednesday, April 17, 2024, a team, representing the WVDE Office of District/School Improvement and the Office of Leadership Development, visited the middle school to conduct the Targeted School Environment Assessment. This assessment was prompted by several concerns, including:

  • The West Virginia School Learning Environment Survey taken in October 2023 revealed that 53% of students at Martinsburg North reported feeling safe at school, compared to the statewide result of 80%.
  • As of April 2024, 23 Title IX violations and 160 physical fights had been documented in the West Virginia Education Information System (WVEIS).
  • Based on 2023 West Virginia General Summative Assessment data, 24.12% of students were proficient in English language arts and 5.69% of students demonstrated proficiency in mathematics. Both these numbers represent a decrease from 2022 achievement levels and are significantly below the statewide proficiency average for middle schools of 54.1% in English language arts and 47.4% in mathematics.
  • The initial CSI Diagnostic Report, conducted upon the school’s identification, included recommendations to support the West Virginia Standards for Effective Schools, such as a comprehensive behavior plan and administrative protocols to address student behavior that had not been significantly addressed.

During the assessment visit, the WVDE team witnessed several violations of state code and WVBE policies that significantly impacted the provision of a safe and productive learning environment. Among these issues:

  • Students and staff disclosed feeling unsafe at school and described the administrative approach to discipline as unfair and inconsistent.
  • Team members observed threatening and hostile behaviors exhibited by students, such as the use of profanity and inappropriate language. These behaviors were ineffectively addressed by teachers and other staff members or not addressed at all.
  • Effective classroom management strategies were not evident during observations.
  • Team members described a chaotic, destructive, and occasionally hostile learning environment.
  • Many staff members described a lack of instructional leadership by the administrative team.

Based on the information provided by the Targeted School Environmental Assessment, the WVBE voted unanimously to issue a State of Emergency for Martinsburg North Middle School. The WVDE Division of District and School Accountability will create an action plan in collaboration with Berkeley County Schools leadership. This plan will be presented to the WVBE at the June meeting.