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PUBLIC EDUCATION ACCOUNTABILITY


County Public School District. The obvious goal of a takeover, according to Garland (2003) is district improvement after the takeover, or sustainability. Logan County has sustained success after the 1992 -1996 state takeover and is still reporting success in 2010.


The Study A qualitative case study was used to evaluate a successful and sustaining state takeover for the development of a statewide implementation model. Success or successful refers to an acceptable or higher evaluative ranking on the performance audit report prepared by the West Virginia Office of Educational Performance Audit (West, 2001). Sustained or sustainability refers to the ability to maintain identified and measured success over a period of time (Lezotte & McKee, 2002). The focus of this study addressed the sustainability of a successful takeover. Specifically, this study posed the question, what are the key characteristics that resulted from or contributed to the sustainability of a district takeover of a public school system in West Virginia?


Background In December 1991, the Department of Education for the State of West Virginia announced a takeover of the Logan County public school system (LCPSS). Logan County became the first West Virginia school district to relinquish control under a 1988 law (West, 2001) that provided the state board of education authority over failing school districts.


A performance audit of the LCPSS revealed mismanagement and administrative miscues from top to bottom. Coupling the certification and personnel issues with other instances of mismanagement in addition to lagging test scores and poor attendance, the state moved in for its first takeover (Seder, 2000).


By 1995, three years after the takeover, third-grade students were performing at the 69th percentile, up from the 50th percentile when the state assumed control, and 62% of students scored at or above the 50th percentile on state testing (Seder, 2000). The dropout rate was reduced from 19.6% to 13.2%. Attendance showed improvement, growing from below 90% in six schools to above 90% in all schools in the system (Seder, 2000). In 2002, seven years later, attendance was reported at 94% for all schools in Logan County (Barker, 2002). Satisfied with the results and direction in which the school system was heading, the state returned control to the local school board. The district is now evaluated by the state on a 5-year basis, which is the same as other West Virginia school districts (Seder, 2000).


Nature of the Study The study was an in-depth examination of a single case and the purpose was to identify


80 Virginia Educational Leadership Vol. 8 No. 1 Spring 2011


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