March 13, 2015 - Volume 35 Issue 17



The West Virginia Board of Education is the first to recognize 2015 Digital Learning Day. During its monthly meeting in Charleston, members heard from Union Elementary School students in Upshur County via Skype about plans they have for Digital Learning Day. In addition, a proclamation from the Office of Governor Earl Ray Tomblin was presented, officially designating March 13, 2015, as Digital Learning Day in West Virginia.  

Digital Learning Day celebrates the power of technology in the classroom. The day, coordinated by the Alliance for Excellent Education, encourages the innovative use of technology and digital media and highlights teaching practices that make learning more personalized and engaging for students. From simple beginnings at Mountainview Elementary School. Digital Learning Day has become a worldwide event for showcasing how technology can improve student outcomes and support teachers. It was created to provide all educators with the support and guidance they need to feel comfortable using different types of technology to improve learning in their classrooms.  

“There are some West Virginia county school systems that have already missed 18 days of instruction due to weather and other unforeseen circumstances," Michael Green, vice president of the state school board, said. “As a board, we are working to replace traditional schoolhouse walls and deliver learning anytime from anywhere. Digital Learning Day acknowledges the progress being made by our schools, teachers and students.  

Thousands of students were expected to participate in Digital Learning Day. For example, students at Pinch Elementary School in Kanawha County were scheduled to showcase an iPad app for students from another grade; students at Wright Denny Intermediate School in Jefferson County were scheduled to participate in the Global Describe and Draw Project at kidlink.org; and, teachers at Lincoln High School in Harrison County were scheduled offer a variety of hands-on activities in their classrooms and throughout the building. To learn more about other Digital Learning Day celebrations in West Virginia schools, visit: http://wvde.state.wv.us/dlday/2015.  

“Effective technology combined with great teachers and engaged students have the potential to transform the world of learning,” state Supt. Michael Martirano said. “Providing innovative ways to teach students is paramount to the One Voice, One Focus: All Students Achieving Vision Plan. We cannot ignore the power of digital technology as we work together to prepare our students for college and careers.  

Teachers and others have been asked to share their successes on Twitter using #WVDLD2015, #DLD2015 and #DLDay. To learn more about the event, visit http://www.digitallearningday.org or contact the West Virginia Department of Education Office of Communication at 304-558-2699.



State Superintendent of Schools Michael Martirano received approval from the West Virginia Board of Education to use one year to ensure that all pieces of the state's education transformation are comparable and coherent. The state board unanimously voted during its monthly board meeting in Charleston to allow for the one-year time period.

Martirano made the recommendation to confirm the alignment of the statewide assessment, accountability and accreditation systems, which are all part of the One Voice, One Focus: All Students Achieving vision plan.

“The sense of urgency to improve student achievement levels across the state remains constant,” Gayle Manchin, board president, said. “Board members agreed that a one-year diagnostic period is prudent to guarantee a thorough and consistent system of student assessment, accountability and school accreditation.”

Martirano said, “I am appreciative for the board’s vision and leadership evident in the unanimous vote to approve the recommendation. The diagnostic year will allow us to create synergy between the major initiatives as well as inform and instruct the next steps in improving student achievement and ensuring West Virginia students graduate college and career ready."

The recommendation by state school leaders aligns with the U.S. Department of Education’s acknowledgement of a transition year as states administer new assessments. As a result, the federal department is allowing state departments of education to adjust their implementation timelines under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Flexibility waiver. The West Virginia Department of Education must apply for renewal of its ESEA Flexibility waiver by March 31. The original waiver allowed West Virginia to launch a new student achievement and school accountability system and freed West Virginia public schools from certain federal rules and deadlines.

“We are not backing down from the components of reform including the Next Generation Standards, which guide our students as they become college and career ready,” Martirano said. “However, as we examine our processes and our products, and as we look to our citizens for ways to improve the educational delivery model for our young people, we must make certain that all the transformational efforts are sound, logical, united and consistent. We need to take the time that good implementation requires.”

Action taken during the board meeting included:

  • Allowing for a diagnostic year related to the West Virginia’s A-F School Grading System;
  • Allowing county school systems to choose how the college and career ready mathematics standards are organized into high school course offerings; and,
  • Allowing for the elimination of social studies assessments, and only requiring science assessments in grades four, six and 10.

“This one-year period is going to allow us to get it right,” Martirano added. “We have listened to county superintendents, principals and educators, and they say they are committed to consistent student achievement data being used to guide school improvement and instruction.”

 Martirano also presented a year-by-year One Voice, One Focus outreach plan, which included regional meetings to provide input on West Virginia’s college and career ready standards, development of parent resources about what the Next Generation Standards look like in classrooms, and additional professional learning for teachers.

For more information, contact Liza Cordeiro in the Education Department’s Communication Office at (304) 558-2699.