State Board

January 28, 2011 - Volume 31 Issue 5

State Board / State Department of Education News



West Virginia students are cultivating some positive science results. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, the state’s fourth- and eighth-grade students are showing solid science scores on the Nation’s Report Card, also referred to as the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).


West Virginia’s fourth-grade students averaged a score of 148 on the 2009 science assessment. The national average was 149. The state’s eighth-grade students averaged a science score of 145, compared to the national score of 149.


“These results are very encouraging especially since the science assessment was given only a few months after our students were exposed to more rigorous science content as part of Global21: Students deserve it. The world demands it.,” state Superintendent of Schools Ted Mattern said.


The new science standards were just being implemented by teachers when students took the NAEP 2009 science test. By the end of the 2008-2009 school year, students showed improvement on the WESTEST2, the state’s assessment. In 2009, 78 percent of schools accountable under the federal No Child Left Behind Act met high levels of learning. In 2010, 81 percent met high levels of learning. WESTEST2 is aligned to NAEP.


The 2009 NAEP focused on three key areas: physical science, life science and earth and space sciences. It is important to note that the 2009 scores cannot be compared to earlier years because in 2009 the assessment was updated to include questions classified as one content area but also required knowledge in one or both of the other content areas.


“What we value in West Virginia is constant improvement in student achievement and learning,” Mattern said. “These results reinforce that the decisions we’ve made to assure our students are college and career ready when they graduate from high school are paying off.”


The Nation’s Report Card tests a representative sample of students statewide by distributing assessment questions in content areas among groups of test takers who take different versions of the test.


For more information, contact the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699.



The West Virginia Board of Education has voted to establish an annual awards program that recognizes outstanding school service personnel employees. Each year, the program will honor one person, chosen from aides, bus drivers, cooks, custodians, maintenance workers, office workers and other school service personnel, for his or her contribution to the school and community.


“School service personnel are an important part of any school family,” state board President Priscilla Haden said. “We are proud to honor them for their many contributions that help our students in many ways every day.” 


The program is designed to work similarly to the state’s Teacher of the Year program, which honors classroom teachers who inspire students of all backgrounds and abilities to learn, have the respect and admiration of students, parents, and colleagues and play an active and useful role in the community as well as in the school.


Every county will select a local winner, whose application will be forwarded to the state Department of Education for consideration as the statewide winner. The finalists will be invited to a state board meeting, where the winner’s name will be announced. Names of county winners along with a completed nomination packet must be received by the Department of Education by May 1 to be considered by the selection committee, which may include representatives from the state board, the state department, education unions, principals and parents. Future award committees also can include former School Service Personnel Employee of the Year winners. 


Applications can be accessed at: Mail completed applications to: Coordinator, WVBE School Service Personnel EOY Program, West Virginia Department of Education, 1900 Kanawha Boulevard East, Building 6, Room 264, Charleston, WV 25305-0330.

For more information, contact Keith Burdette, director of the Office of Human Resources at (304) 558-2702, or the Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699.


The 2011 West Virginia Teacher of the Year, Drema McNeal, is speeding ahead with her responsibilities as the state’s top educator. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on Thursday joined Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia and Mountain State Blue Cross Blue Shield to present McNeal with keys to a brand new Toyota Prius and $5,000.  

“Our state teachers dedicate themselves to molding the minds of tomorrow,” Tomblin said. “I am so proud of our Teacher of the Year and these gifts are only a small token of appreciation for what Drema gives to her students daily.”  

Each year Toyota donates a brand new car to the state teacher of the year, who can use the vehicle for a year as she or he travels the state.  

“As a West Virginia company, Toyota's long-term success depends on the availability of well trained, well educated team members. This event allows us to recognize and say thank you to all West Virginia's teachers who are preparing our future work force,” Mike Lutz, general manager for Toyota Motor Manufacturing in West Virginia, said. “On behalf of the 1,000 exceptional team members at our Buffalo manufacturing facility, it is with great pleasure that we recognize the significant contributions that Drema McNeal has and will continue to make to West Virginia students as our 2011 Teacher of the Year.”

In addition, Mountain State Blue Cross Blue Shield presented McNeal with a $5,000 check to spend as she wishes.

"The future of both our state and country rest in the hands of today's youth,” Fred Earley, Mountain State’s president, said. “To ensure our children are prepared for this task, it is essential that both parents and educators play a significant role in molding our students to become the leaders of tomorrow. We are always pleased to be able to assist in rewarding our state's teachers who exemplify the outstanding qualifications and dedication to students that Ms. McNeal has possessed over the past few years. She is truly a role model for our children."

McNeal is a National Board Certifiedsixth grade language arts teacher at Park Middle School in Beckley, Raleigh County. McNeal, who is in her 24th year in the classroom, will represent West Virginia in the National Teacher of the Year competition. She has a master’s degree plus 60 credit hours and is an award-winning author.

McNeal’s principal, Marsha Smith, described her as a “creative, original and innovative” teacher who brings learning to life for her students regardless of background or learning ability. Smith said McNeal is not only an effective classroom communicator but also is a published author who still finds time to volunteer for causes that aid children and families.

McNeal was selected by a committee appointed by the state superintendent of schools to evaluate finalists who were their county Teacher of the Year winners. The Teacher of the Year is the longest, ongoing awards program honoring classroom teachers in the country. West Virginia granted its first award in 1964.


The West Virginia Board of Education has approved a timeline to incorporate Common Core State Standards beginning in kindergarten this fall. Last May, the state board adopted Common Core Standards for English and math, and directed the West Virginia Department of Education to spend the next year aligning the common core with West Virginia’s 21st Century Curriculum Standards and Objectives and other resources. 

“The standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents have a roadmap for what they need to do to help them succeed,” state Superintendent of Schools Ted Mattern said.

The kindergarten standards will be followed with first grade in 2012-2013, second grade in 2013-2014, and third through 12th grades in 2014-2015. Professional development on the standards will begin this summer as one part of the state’s annual Teacher Leadership Institute.  

The common core standards focus on fewer concepts while stressing deeper learning and understanding, and are part of an overall drive to better prepare today's students for college or careers. The goal is to provide states with fewer, clearer and higher standards that are to be benchmarked against international standards. Common core standards in social studies and science are under development.

West Virginiais one of 51 U.S. states and territories to participate in the Common Core State Standards Initiative, a national joint project of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association. The Common Core State Standards build upon the success of West Virginia’s 21st century learning vision called Global21: Students deserve it. The world demands it.” 

The common core initiative respects the unique nature of every state, while acknowledging a shared national commitment to high classroom standards for all students in kindergarten through high school. The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators and education experts. The standards define the knowledge and skills students should have within their K-12 education careers so that they will graduate from high school able to succeed in college courses and in work force training programs.

To learn more about the Common Core State Standards, visit:


The West Virginia Board of Education has voted to award nearly $363,000 to 13 schools or consortiums seeking to become School Innovation Zones.

The School Innovations Zone Act encourages pilot projects at schools around the state. The law allows for waivers to certain state laws, rules and policies to give teachers and principals greater local control over the curriculum, schedule and staffing in their schools. Schools designated as Innovation Zones essentially become learning laboratories with the flexibility to try innovative teaching strategies.

The board approved funding for the following projects:

1. Clay: Clay County Schools, $7,500

2. Grant: Dorcas Elementary, $20,000

3. Greenbrier: Rupert Elementary, $49,999

4. Harrison: Nutter Fort Intermediate, $24,570

5. Jefferson: South Jefferson Elementary, $18,300

6. Kanawha: Elk Elementary, $31,765

7. Mercer: Pikeview Middle, $41,150

8. Monongalia: Easton and Woodburn elementaries, $25,500; Monongalia County Tech Education, $3,800

9. Ritchie: Ritchie County High, $48,465

10. Upshur: Union Elementary, $40,416

11. Wood: Fairplains Elementary, $46,900

12. West Virginia Department of Education Institutional Education: Davis-Stuart School, $4,200

 “Giving teachers the opportunity to make changes in their schools is an important step to implementing research-based 21st century teaching and learning and Global21,” state Superintendent of Schools Ted Mattern said. “Innovation Zones allow schools to adapt to changing times and embrace new ideas and new teaching strategies so that our children prosper in the 21st century.”

Applications for Innovation Zone implementation funding were evaluated by a committee, which looked at many factors including creativity and innovation; staff commitment; parental and community support; sustainability; and potential for success. Altogether 26 applications were received. Project submitters that did not receive funding have been encouraged to modify their plans and resubmit them for consideration prior to Feb. 15.


West Virginiaschools and students are topping the charts, according to Education Week’s Quality Counts 2011: Uncertain Forecast, Education Adjusts to a New Economic Reality.  West Virginia made it onto the Top 10 list with an overall grade of B-. The nation received only a C.

The 15th annual edition of Quality Counts continues the report’s tradition of tracking key education indicators and grading the states on their policy efforts and outcomes. This year’s special theme—the impact of the economy on education—is complemented by updated 50-state information on policies and conditions in four of the areas monitored by the report on an ongoing basis: Chance for Success; K-12 achievement; transitions and alignment policies; and school finance.

 “Quality Counts 2011 gives our state a good snapshot of how we compare to other states,” state Superintendent of Schools Ted Mattern said. “The governor, the Legislature, the state Board of Education, students, teachers and West Virginia Department of Education staff have worked very hard all year. While we still have work to do, this year’s report is positive reinforcement that we are heading in the right direction with our Global21: Students deserve it. The world demands it. vision.” (

West Virginiawas one of the top three states in the Transitions and Alignment section of the report, receiving an A. Education Week examined state efforts to connect the K-12 education system with early learning, higher education and the world of work. Fourteen key transitions and alignment policies were included in Quality Counts 2011. The high marks were in thanks to West Virginia’s early learning standards, college readiness standards, career-specialized high school diplomas and a K-12 definition of work readiness. 

The School Finance category focused on eight commonly used measures of equity and spending, including areas such as per-pupil expenditures, percent of state taxable resources used on K-12 education, and the relationship between district funding and local property wealth. West Virginia received a C+ in this category. Based on Quality Counts 2011, the nation has increased its per-pupil expenditure by $666 and the top ranked state has increased its per-pupil expenditure by $728. West Virginia has only increased its per-pupil expenditure by $392. In addition, West Virginia’s per-pupil cost include an expenditure of $300 million for the unfunded past service liability of the Teachers’ Retirement System.

“Our students face many challenges that impede significant gains in achievement,” Mattern said. “The demographic changes in our state over the last decade tell a story of increasingly more of our children with physical and mental health issues, disabilities and living with the effects of poverty. During this same time span, our expenditure for public education has not increased at the same rate as the rest of the nation.”

To fully understand the role education plays throughout a lifetime, Education Week developed the Chance-for-Success Index. The index combines information from 13 indications that span from cradle to career. The Chance-for-Success category allows states to identify concerns outside of the educational structure such as family income, parental employment and parental level of education.

Noting low marks in areas such as parent education level, family income and the number of residents who have acquired a two- or four-year postsecondary degree, West Virginia received a C- in the Chance-for-Success category.

Quality Counts 2011used West Virginia’s 2009 National Assessment Education Progress (NAEP) as part of the Chance-for-Success and K-12 Achievement categories of the report. It is important to note that students took the 2009 NAEP just as more rigorous content standards were introduced into the classroom in 2008 as part of Global21.

“Research shows that any time change takes place in the educational arena at first there is a dip in achievement levels,” Mattern said. “Five years ago we recognized the urgency for change based on our NAEP scores. The need to change from a 20th century school system to a 21st century more rigorous and globally competitive school system that will provide students with the skills needed to meet or exceed national education standards was apparent.  Since that time, we, with the involvement of the education community, have made a substantial number of changes to meet the needs of today’s students.”

These changes include:

  • Increased level of rigor of Content Standards and Objectives (CSOs)
  • Aligned curriculum with national and international standards
  • Increased graduation requirements
  • Increased availability of pre-K programs
  • Established RTI (early intervention model) to increase literacy skill success
  • Established learning skills (communication, critical thinking and personal/workplace skills) and technology skills as an integral part of the curriculum for all students
  • Established a network of electronic resources to support 21st century instruction (Learn21, Parent21 and Teach 21:
  • Redesigned assessments to align with more rigorous and relevant CSOs

Education Week is a weekly education magazine distributed nationwide.  


As one of only a few states requiring a civics class before students can graduate from high school, West Virginia is now moving to incorporate patriotism lessons within eighth grade history classes.

 The move is a joint effort of the West Virginia Department of Education and the West Virginia American Legion. The first offering is a TechSteps activity titled “Symbols of Significance,” designed to help students recognize why certain symbols are important to some.

 “We need a resurgence of patriotism to keep alive the vision our forefathers had upon which our country was founded,” Robert R. Post with the Frank B. Bartlett Post No. 7 of the American Legion said. “We need to guarantee the continued remembrance and gratitude of freedom for all future generations.” 

The program will use technology to link subject matter about American principles and ideals, patriotism and the American way of life to the classroom. Students will explore the important American principles expressed in symbols they choose to explore and create an electronic patriotic presentation using one of the following:

  • The Great Seal of the United States
  • The Great Seal of West Virginia
  • The Seal of the United States Senate
  • The emblem of the American Legion
  • The one-dollar bill
  • Or a national or state emblem they design themselves.

“Patriotism and an in-depth knowledge of democracy and what it means to be an American citizen are vitally important to our state and our nation,” West Virginia Board of Education President Priscilla Haden said. “Citizenship doesn’t work unless you know how to be a good citizen.”

Incorporating patriotism into the curriculum builds on West Virginia’s solid foundation promoting civics education. In recent years, West Virginia has been recognized as a leader for its effort to boost civics education in public schools. In 2007, the state was one of only 13 states to be named in a 2007 study about civics for creating officially sanctioned state commissions on civic education or civic literacy. West Virginia also was recognized in 2008 by the Campaign to Promote Civic Education Center for Civic Education for its efforts to boost civics education in public schools. In addition, the West Virginia Board of Education in 2007 added a non-voting student representative to meetings to spur student interest in government.

The West Virginia Board of Education in 2004 adopted a policy that now requires civic education and government for high school graduation. The board also revised West Virginia’s social studies content standards in 2005 to add personal finance to the civics classes. West Virginia’s Global21 initiative also puts a special emphasis on civic and economic literacy as well as critical thinking, problem solving, communication skills, global awareness and business literacy.   


West Virginia’s state-funded prekindergarten program has earned the state high marks in a national report by Pre-K Now. 

The annual Pew report “Votes Count” cited West Virginia’s Universal Pre-K Program as an example of “smart, research-based policy and strong, sustained commitments.” The report evaluates state budgets to determine which legislatures count voluntary, high-quality pre-k among their top education reform strategies.  

“The steady progress is due in large part to three vital priorities state leaders set: high quality; reliable, secure funding; and support for community-based providers, all of which helped sustain public and political support,” the report said. 

West Virginiapassed legislation that requires universal preschool be available to all of the state’s four-year-olds by the 2012-2013 school year. Half of the programs will be in collaborative settings with Head Start, child care and private programs. The program enrolled about 51 percent of the state’s four-year-olds in 2009, and is on pace to serve about 60 percent, or about15,550 children, in 2010-2011. 

About 9 percent of the state’s three-year-olds, mainly special needs children, also are served through the program. State funding is made available through the school funding formula is projected to increase by about $3.4 million to $80 million, according to the report.

 “The Legislature’s support for continued investment shows that West Virginia’s leaders understand the importance of investing in programs with proven results even during tough economic times,” Clayton Burch, assistant director of school readiness for the state Department of Education, said.

Research shows that high-quality pre-K can help improve the educational success of all children, decrease dropout rates, crime and delinquency, and improve economic productivity and health. Research also shows that that quality early learning results in savings to states for every dollar invested.  Children who complete quality pre-k programs are more academically and socially prepared when they enter school, less likely to be held back or need special education services, and more likely to complete high school and contribute to their community as adults. 

 Such research contributed to the state Board of Education’s decision in 2009 to approve new regulations requiring all pre-K programs provide at least one meal daily, and, beginning in 2013, mandating that all new teachers in community-based programs have at least a bachelor’s degree.

NOTE: For more information regarding the above articles, please contact the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699 or contacts otherwise noted.


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