An annual report on the well-being of West Virginia children gives the state's education system low marks, ranking it 47th in the nation.
Seventy-nine percent of the state's eighth-graders weren't proficient in math in 2011, while 73 percent of fourth-graders weren't proficient in reading, according to the 2012 KIDS COUNT data book released Wednesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Margie Hale, executive director of West Virginia KIDS COUNT, said the state needs to focus more on early childhood education.
"Education is the worst ranking of any domain (in the report) and we at Kids Count do not believe that West Virginia can move out of these bad numbers until it makes a significant investment in young children," Hale told the Charleston Gazette.
"We know from economists that investing in young children birth to 3-years-old has the biggest investment than any other investment the state could make. I think one of the reasons we don't do this is because the payoff doesn't come in the election cycle. The payoff comes years later."