State Board

March 15, 2013 - Volume 33 Issue 11

State Board / State Department of Education News


Only a month after Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin entrusted the West Virginia Board of Education to address educational improvements under its jurisdiction, significant progress has been made.

In a letter to the governor, the board reported it is working to strengthen teacher education programs and direct professional development to support reading on grade level by the end of third grade. The board is convening a group of key stakeholders in April to begin the development of a new teacher preparation approval process that will ensure that graduates deliver effective reading skills. Working with the Appalachian Regional Comprehensive Center, this stakeholder group will consist primarily of faculty and staff from institutions of higher education, P-12 practitioners, central office members, administrators, as well as state board and West Virginia Department of Education staff.

“The West Virginia Board of Education welcomes the opportunity to show our deep commitment to Gov. Tomblin and his progressive educational agenda through our proactive action plan,” state board President Wade Linger said. “The board has readily accepted the governor’s challenge to revamp our education system to ensure we provide top-notch education to all our children.”

In addition, the board has formed the Commission on School District Governance and Administration to review the current governance structure of the 55 county boards of education and the operational costs. State board member Tom Campbell will serve as chairman. The first meeting will be convened within a month. The work of the commission will be part of the state board’s newly formed Local and Regional Efficiencies Committee.

Significant progress has been made to improve the use of Regional Education Service Agencies (RESAs) to create efficiencies and to decentralize the delivery of professional development services. Specifically, the board has developed a standard operating procedure to facilitate universal adoption of cooperative purchasing at the local levels. It is estimated that a 25 percent savings on $256 million of local purchasing will free up $60 million per year for classroom use.

In addition, the state board has directed the state Department of Education to re-allocate $1.6 million in internal staffing dollars to add 16 additional staff members to the RESAs for delivery of high-quality professional development at the local level. The board also has directed the department to re-allocate $1.1 million of Teacher Leadership Institute money to the RESAs for teacher leadership training at the local level.

The board also has requested the department to work with each RESA to submit a compact outlining its plan for the rollout of the professional development of Next Generation Standards. Each RESA was required to develop a professional development plan that provides a research-based rationale for how the professional development will improve student achievement.

To improve coordination of staff in cross-counseling efforts between public education and community colleges to ensure high school graduates are prepared for a career, board members have met with Pierpont Community and Technical College and with the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. The board is establishing a cross-counseling pilot project in north-central West Virginia to provide career awareness and career counseling services to middle school students through a collaborative, public and postsecondary, education team. The pilot will provide an analysis as to the best process to take cross counseling statewide to make it possible for students to understand career options available to them at an earlier point in their education.

The board also is making progress on requiring every career center in West Virginia to adopt or develop at least one career pathway that meets Preparation for Tomorrow standards established by the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB). Gene Bottoms, senior vice president of the SREB, addressed the state board at the March meeting. The goal of this program is to enable students to master complex academic and technical concepts and graduate ready for as many options as possible in the workplace, technical colleges or universities.

On Project 24, the board has been investigating the program to advise the governor on how to use technology to personalize and enhance the education of all students. The board received information on Project 24 from Chip Slaven, counsel to the president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and author of the Each Child Learns Act, a draft legislation model for states on personalized and digital learning.

Slaven told the board that quality teaching, enhanced through the effective use of technology, can improve learning by personalizing it for each student. He placed particular focus on blended learning classroom models that use high quality digital learning content with real time data.

“Participation in this project is a smart next step in self-paced learning and will ensure we use technology in the most efficient and effective ways,” Linger said. “Technology holds the potential to transform the way teaching and learning occur in our state, and knowing that former Gov. Bob Wise now heads the Alliance gives us additional assurance that our participation will be productive.”

 

 

The West Virginia Department of Education has created an online tool to match teacher candidates and prospective teachers with counties experiencing critical personnel shortages.

The West Virginia Critical Needs listing webpage is posted at http://wvde.state.wv.us/forms/critical-needs/view.php. Personnel directors can add or update their county’s needs for the 2013-2014 school year at http://wvde.state.wv.us/forms/critical-needs/admin/login.php. In addition, prospective teachers can visit www.teachwv.com to access the critical needs listing as well as the K-12 Job Bank. Critical need areas are defined as subjects or locations that do not have sufficient numbers of teachers to fill vacancies. Although counties may experience shortages in any subject, many struggle most finding math, science, special education and foreign language teachers.

“Educators and policymakers are continually searching for new ways to recruit and retain excellent public school teachers,” state Supt. Jim Phares said. “This online tool will allow counties to find the best candidates to meet their local needs.”

West Virginia has a highly experienced teaching corps. However, many are quickly reaching retirement age. Of the 24,559 teachers working in West Virginia public schools, 10,806, or 44 percent, have or will have reached retirement age within the next five years. The critical needs listing is one way the state Department of Education is working to address the issue.

Additionally, the West Virginia Board of Education has endorsed Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s educational agenda, which allows non-traditional teachers through programs such as Teach for America to be placed in critical need areas with a shortage of educators. Teach for America is an AmeriCorps-style service program that recruits new college graduates to teach in mostly rural and urban school districts in the country.

For more information, contact Robert Mellace at 304-558-5325 or rmellace@access.k12.wv.us.

 

 

The West Virginia Board of Education on Wednesday voted to revise state policy outlining standards for the state’s career and technical education centers.

Revisions to Policy 2520.13, Common Core Content Standards for Career and Technical Education in West Virginia Schools, put into place the National Common Career and Technical Core, Career Ready Practices, as well as the content skill sets defined for each state-approved career and technical concentrations and courses offered in West Virginia. In addition, the policy update repeals earlier standards approved in 2005.

By adopting the national practices, West Virginia provides its schools with a comprehensive guide for delivering a relevant career technical education curriculum. The changes enhance the content taught in career technical education programs and raises the rigor to provide skills necessary for employment in today’s economy. The updated guidelines allow students in the majority of career technical education pathways to earn a credential and also raise accountability for mastery of content.

"As we work with Gov. Tomblin, the Legislature, parents, teachers and others to improve student achievement in West Virginia, we must remember the important role career technical education plays,” Supt. Jim Phares said. “The ultimate goal is for West Virginia’s students to achieve academically and to readily learn job skills that prepare them for college and careers.”

One way the state Department of Education is working to help educators incorporate the standards into their lessons is with a new online resource, in|site. The website (http://wvde.state.wv.us/insite) offers learning options at a click to both academic and career technical teachers.

The innovative system assists academic and career technical teachers in locating quality instructional resources to use in their classrooms and it allows for the implementation of cross-curricular projects. It also includes an online learning resource for students.

“In|Site is our version of the Staples Easy Button, providing an easy link to learning connections,” Phares said. “In|Site is where career technical education and academics interface.”

 

 

The West Virginia Board of Education on Wednesday voted to establish eight Regional Compacts to provide professional development of Next/Gen Content Standards and Objectives.

Instead of centralized instruction, the compacts allow each RESA to now be responsible for working with their member districts to design and delivery of professional development for teachers of English language arts and mathematics in the West Virginia Next Generation Content Standards. The West Virginia Department of Education also will provide funding for all 55 districts as each RESA conducts this work over the next year. In addition, the West Virginia Department of Education will provide staff to train RESA-based trainers as the work unfolds over the next few months.

“The Next Generation Standards will help our schools move beyond test-prep instruction to ensuring we prepare our students for college and career success,” Supt. Jim Phares said. “By providing this professional development regionally, we are granting teachers greater access to the help they need to customize their classroom instruction to improve student achievement.”

The RESA compacts illustrate one way the West Virginia Board of Education is working to decentralize the delivery of professional development services to better meet local student, school and district needs.

 

West Virginia works to improve school safety

Public schools in West Virginia are becoming safer and more secure as school districts across the nation strive to protect children in the wake of the tragic shootings in Connecticut, the state board of education has been told.

Mark Manchin, director of the West Virginia School Building Authority (SBA), updated the board on how his agency has been working to overhaul access safety and security of schools statewide as part of the School Access Safety Act. Passed in 2007, the act created a safety fund, which has allowed the SBA to distribute about $31.5 million to all 55 counties during the last four years.

“As horrific as Sandy Hook, Columbine and other school shootings were, we’ve learned from these incidences,” Manchin said.

While West Virginia has worked diligently to improve school safety since the law’s passage six years ago, the deaths of 20 elementary students and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December has many re-examining school safety. Much of the fund money spent to date in West Virginia has paid for various safety measures, including keyless entries, locking mechanisms on doors, and the numbering of rooms. In addition to digital mapping, all new schools will have panic buttons that, when pushed, lock down the buildings and dial 911.

“While academics are the foundation for a solid education, making sure the learning environment is safe is a vital component to our educational mission,” state Supt. Jim Phares said. “We all share a common goal of protecting our children.”

To further improve safety, the state board of education has been collaborating with the SBA, the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and county school districts to create digital maps of the state’s schools for use by first responders should an emergency arise. In addition, legislation passed in 2011 calls for the establishment of an up-to-date school specific crisis response plan at every school in the state. All schools are required to have the plans in place by the coming school year.

“With digital mapping, if there is an incident at a school anywhere in the state of West Virginia, first responders will have access not only to a school’s vulnerabilities, but also its access points,” Manchin said. “The more information we can provide first responders, the better we can protect our children and our staffs.”

 

State unveils new online toot that connects career technical and academic education

Before a crowd of lawmakers, educators, business leaders and others, the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) on Thursday unveiled In|Site, an online resource for teachers, students and administrators. The website (http://wvde.state.wv.us/insite) offers learning options at a click to both academic and career technical teachers.

“In|Site is our version of the Staples Easy Button, providing an easy link to learning connections,” state Supt.  Jim Phares said. “In|Site is where career technical education and academics interface.”

Phares and Education Department staff demonstrated the site during the West Virginia Association of Career and Technical Education's Annual Friends of Career and Technical Education Breakfast.

The innovative system helps academic and career technical teachers locate quality instructional resources to use in their classrooms and it allows for the implementation of cross-curricular projects. It also includes an online learning resource for students.

“As we work with Gov. Tomblin, the Legislature, parents, teachers and others to improve student achievement in West Virginia, we must remember the important role career technical education plays,” Phares said. “The ultimate goal is for West Virginia’s students to achieve academically and to readily learn job skills that prepare them for college and careers. In|Site will help our teachers help our students.”

 

West Virginia and Spain sign agreement to expand Spanish instruction in public schools

West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Jim Phares on Tuesday joined education leaders from the Embassy of Spain in forming a partnership to bring Spanish teachers to the Mountain State.

The letter of intent, signed by Phares as well as Education Counselor Xavier Gisbert da Cruz and Education Adviser Pedro Rey Rodil, both with the Embassy of Spain in Washington, D.C., initiates a pilot project to bring five certified Spanish teachers to West Virginia. The Spanish teachers will be placed in areas of the state with critical shortages of world language teachers.

“As our world becomes more and more connected, a thorough knowledge of foreign languages is no longer an optional skill but an essential one,” Phares said. “Providing our children with the opportunity to understand the Spanish language and culture will give them a better chance of succeeding in today’s global economy.”

The cross-cultural program promises to provide students an opportunity to learn Spanish from an experienced native speaker and can foster mutual global understanding. Participating teachers can work for up to three years in West Virginia upon mutual consent.

The program’s goal is to place Spanish teachers who come to West Virginia in schools with critical needs. Such counties include Berkeley, Boone, Brooke, Cabell, Clay, Fayette, Grant, Hancock, Jefferson, Logan, Mercer, Mineral, Mingo, Monongalia, Nicholas, Raleigh, Upshur, Wayne, Wetzel, Wood and Wyoming.

 

Students are earning advanced placement credit

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 center, 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.

For more information, contact the Office of Communication at (304) 558-2699.