State Board



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February 22, 2013 - Volume 33 Issue 5

State Board / State Department of Education News

The number of West Virginia public school students taking college-level Advanced Placement courses and earning credit has more than doubled since 2002, according to a national report released Wednesday.

“The Ninth Annual AP Report to the Nation,” published by the College Board, shows that 3,722 public high school graduates in West Virginia took an Advanced Placement exam in 2012, compared to 1,806 in 2002, an increase of about 106 percent. During the same time, the number of students earning college credit by scoring a 3 or higher on an AP exam increased from 886 in 2002 to 1,631 in 2012. English Language and Composition is the most common AP course taken by West Virginia students.

“The AP report shows that some West Virginia students are making the most of the advantage Advanced Placement courses have to offer,” state Supt. Jim Phares said. “Still, the small number of students who enrolled in these courses also shows we have a lot of work ahead of us to improve student achievement in West Virginia.”

The report also indicates that West Virginia is doing a poor job with AP courses when it comes to African-American students, the largest minority group in the state. In 2012, only 79 African-American students enrolled in AP courses. Of those, only 22 scored a 3 or higher on the corresponding exam.

Overall, about 9.8 percent of the Class of 2012 in West Virginia scored a 3 or higher on an AP exam, compared to a national average of 19.5 percent. That percentage placed West Virginia 46th among the 50 states and Washington, D.C. Mississippi had the lowest percentage at 4.6 percent, while Maryland had the highest at nearly 30 percent.

“We must do better to reach all West Virginia students, and the state Board of Education is committed to making reforms to see that happen,” Phares said. “All children need strong literacy and math skills to succeed in school and life in the 21st century. When students do not have the ability to read fluently and to understand and apply math skills, higher level courses are closed to them and their options are limited.”

Encouraging more students to enroll in Advanced Placement courses is one step West Virginia is taking to increase rigor in its schools. To do so, the state Department of Education is working with the West Virginia Center for Professional Development (WVCPD), which trains educators to teach Advanced Placement courses.

“The WVCPD has worked with many partners to expand access and success in AP courses throughout the state,” Dixie Billheimer, chief executive officer of the West Virginia Center for Professional Development, said. “We have made steady progress during the past 10 years, but we all know that challenges remain. WVCPD is committed to working with Supt. Phares and others to elevate AP achievement for all West Virginia students.”

In 2011, the state Department of Education and the state board of education joined the Center for Professional Development, the state Department of Education and the Arts, the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and the College Board in signing the WVAP2014 agreement. The initiative seeks to create policies and practices to ensure that by 2014, 25 percent of the state's high school graduating class will participate in one or more AP courses, that 15 percent of the graduating class will score a 3 or higher on at least one AP exam, and that the equity and excellence gap for African-American students will be eliminated.



The West Virginia Board of Education has placed several proposed policy updates on public comment for 30 days.

During their February meeting, board members voted to repeal Policy 8210, Emergency Purchasing Procedures because the requirements now are incorporated in Policy 8200. Repeal will eliminate redundancy and clarify steps to follow to purchase goods and services during an emergency.

The board also is seeking comment on revisions to Policy 5301, College Hours or Comparable Training in a Vocational School. The policy had not been updated for 10 years. Updates include removing the names of regional accrediting agencies and the national faith-based accrediting organizations and instead refer to them in general terms because of the changing nature of accrediting agencies. In addition, language has been added to clarify a common question related to comparable credit in a trade or vocations school being counted toward an employee’s annual professional development requirements.

Policy 5314.01, Autism Mentor, also is being revised. The policy establishes standards for the autism mentor classification under W.Va. Code §18A-4-8. The revisions address state code and provide direction regarding the autism mentor classification. The changes also specify procedures and criteria for an aide to meet the standards and qualifications of an autism mentor and designate the county board of the West Virginia Department of Education as responsible for verifying whether the standards have been met.

Proposed updates to Policy 4336, West Virginia School Bus Transportation Policy and Procedures Manual, incorporate the intent of W.Va. Code §18A-4-8e. State code establishes a School Bus Operator Review Panel to make recommendations to the superintendent on hearing the suspension of, denial for cause, revocation or imposition of conditions on a school bus operator certificate. Other changes have been made to update this current policy to reflect recent policy and statutory changes.

The proposed changes will be on public comment for 30 days. Educators, parents and community members are encouraged to review the proposed changes and make suggestions. The policy can be viewed on the West Virginia Department of Education website at

NOTE: Information provided by the West Virginia Department of Education.  For more information, contact the Office of Communication at (304) 558-2699.