State Board

April 5, 2013 - Volume 33 Issue 17

State Board / State Department of Education News


The West Virginia Department of Education in collaboration with other state agencies is commemorating the state’s 150th anniversary with a student summer camp that celebrates social studies and the arts.

This West Virginia Ambassadors Camp will be a week-long event conducted at the University of Charleston June 17 through June 21. Campers will stay on the UC campus during the week while they learn about West Virginia history as well as participate in classes taught by West Virginia artisans.

“As both an educator and parent, I believe that we cannot afford to overlook the significant and dramatic effect social studies and the arts have on student achievement,” said state Superintendent Jim Phares. “Research shows that the study of the arts can have a positive effect on student performance, while the study of social studies leads to a well-informed and civic-minded citizenry. This camp will allow our students to experience both.”

County superintendents have been invited to work with the middle schools in their area to select two ambassadors as well as two alternates per county to participate in the program. The students are to be eighth graders during the 2012-2013 school year. Students selected to participate are expected to return to their home counties and serve as ambassadors. Activities throughout the year following the camp are to include presentations at school-wide assemblies, scheduled classroom events at local elementary schools and the creation of an exhibit at county commission buildings.

During the camp, students will spend a day at the West Virginia Capitol Complex, where they will participate in a mock Legislature, tour the state museum, capitol, state archives and state library. In addition, the arts experience will include hands-on art projects as well as a workshop with the West Virginia Dance Company and dress rehearsal with the Charleston Light Opera Guild.

The ambassador program is sponsored by the West Virginia Department of Education, the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, the Sesquicentennial Commission, the City of Charleston, the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences, the West Virginia Power baseball team, the University of Charleston, and various other state agencies and non-profit organizations.

For more information, contact Joey Wiseman or Jack Deskins in the Office of Instruction at 304-558-5325, or the Office of Communication at 304-558-2699.

 

 

Two public schools and one county school district have been nominated by the West Virginia Department of Education for consideration as U.S. Green Ribbon School Award honoring sound environmental practices.

Hometown Elementary School in Putnam County, Petersburg Elementary School in Grant County and Marshall County Schools were nominated for the national award. All three schools also were named West Virginia Sustainable Schools, while Hometown received West Virginia’s Black Bear Award as the state’s highest achiever.

“Many West Virginia schools have worked hard to support healthy school environments and accelerate learning,” said state Superintendent of Schools Jim Phares. “This program allows us to recognize schools that have incorporated sustainability practices into all aspects of school life.”

Both the federal and state programs recognize schools that exemplify a commitment to sustainable practices in their facilities. They also have worked to integrate those practices into the curriculum and helped build healthy and sustainable communities. All schools must meet rigorous standards in three criteria: environmental and sustainability education; healthy school environments; and environmental impact and energy efficiency of facilities. Educational efforts should incorporate science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), civic skills and green career pathways.

The national recognition award is part of a larger U.S. Department of Education effort to improve student engagement, academic achievement, graduation rates, and work force preparedness, as well as a government-wide aim to increase energy independence and economic security.

Schools named West Virginia Sustainable Schools must agree to work to save energy, reduce costs, feature environmentally sustainable learning spaces, protect health, foster wellness, and offer environmental education to boost academic achievement and community engagement. The state program is a joint project of the West Virginia Department of Education; Canaan Valley Institute; the West Virginia School Building Authority; the U.S. Green Building Council, West Virginia Chapter; the West Virginia Environmental Education Association; the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources; the West Virginia Division of Energy; McKinley and Associates; Green School Leadership Institute; and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.

 

 

The West Virginia Board of Education approved a charter creating the Commission on School District Governance to review the current structure and costs of the state’s 55 county boards of education.

“As we work to better address the needs of students statewide, taking time to look at how our county school boards and administrations can effectively share goods and services across county lines is important,” said state Board of Education President Wade Linger. “Since 1930, West Virginia has experienced a decline in student enrollment of more than 26 percent. With that in mind, this commission just makes sense.”

State board member Tom Campbell was named chairman of the commission. Campbell and Linger will appoint members before the next state board meeting April 10. The work of the commission will be part of the state board’s newly formed Local and Regional Efficiencies committee.

“This is an exciting opportunity for those individuals interested in collaborating to improve student achievement in West Virginia public schools,” Campbell said. “Our state is full of talented, caring individuals capable of helping us move education forward.”

 

 

The West Virginia Board of Education 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,” said state Superintendent Jim Phares. “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.

 

 

Faced with enacting wide-ranging school reform measures to address concerns in the governor’s education efficiency audit, the state Board of Education calls the hiring of an operations director essential.

During their March meeting, state board members named Donna Pequot as their director of operations to serve as the board’s liaison to the governor’s office, the Legislature and the West Virginia Department of Education. Peduto, a teaching veteran with 25 years’ experience in the classroom, has worked since last year aiding the board with its response to the audit, “From Audit to Action: Students First.”

“This is a critical time for education in West Virginia,” said state Board of Education President Wade Linger. “The state board is comprised of volunteers who have regular jobs in communities across the state. As we collaborate with Gov. Tomblin, the Legislature, the state superintendent, educators, parents and others, it is important that we have someone who can keep board members informed and address day-to-day issues. Having someone working on the board’s behalf daily well help us better serve the needs of students.”

The West Virginia Board of Education is not alone in choosing to hire a director of operations. The California Board of Education has an executive director and a deputy executive director, as well as policy and program consultants and its own legal advisers. Similarly, the Colorado Board of Education employs a director of state board relations.

In addition to classroom experience, as the board’s liaison, Peduto has worked with the entities under the state Board of Education oversight, including the Regional Education Service Agencies (RESAs), Office of Education Performance Audits (OEPA), the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind and Institutional Education Programs.

While at the state Department of Education, she oversaw the Innovation Zones program and worked directly with low-performing schools to improve student performance. On the national level, she has expanded her project management experience as the director of the Innovation Lab Network at the Stupski Foundation in San Francisco. While there, she established a national network of six high schools in various states to incubate innovative practices to elevate student ownership through personalized learning.

“My experience with working in public schools, non-profit foundations, grant-making foundations, operating foundations, local and state level organizations, and leaders at all levels will allow me to provide the state board with a balanced and global perspective,” Peduto said. “I thank the board for its confidence in me. The state board’s unwavering commitment and dedication to the students and educators of West Virginia creates a transformative culture in our state. I’m proud to be a part of it.”

 

 

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 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.

 

 

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.”

 

 

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 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.

 

 

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 regarding most of these items, please contact the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Communications at 304.558.2691.