December 22, 2016 - Volume 36 Issue 11


The West Virginia Board of Education has approved Innovation in Education designations for seven schools. The seven schools receiving grant awards include: John Marshall High School, Dunbar Intermediate School, Greenbrier West High School, Mary Ingles Elementary, Philip Barbour High School, Tucker County High School and Spring Mills High School.

This is the first time schools have received Innovation in Education designations following the passage of House Bill 4295 during the 2016 legislative session and the board’s subsequent approval of its Policy 3236. The bill, which Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin backed, gives incentives to public schools to implement key innovational education priorities and improve overall student outcomes. Through an application process, public schools can redesign delivery of instruction, operate under greater flexibility and enhance student engagement to increase educational achievement. Those schools must demonstrate innovation in education in any of the following priority areas: 1) science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); 2) community-school partnership; 3) entrepreneurship; 4) career pathways; or 5) the arts.

“We received several outstanding applications requesting an Innovation in Education designation,” Clayton Burch, the Department of Education’s chief academic officer and review committee member, said. “The seven schools receiving designations have proposed inventive ideas that encompass the goals of the Innovation in Education Act.”

The state board received applications from 43 West Virginia elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and career technical education centers. Schools’ applications were independently assessed by a selection committee comprised of representatives from the state board, the Education Department, the governor’s office and Marshall University, as well as county representatives, curriculum facilitators, educators and administrators. The selection committee assessed the schools based on established evaluation rubrics and submitted seven schools for state board approval. In total, the schools receiving the Innovation in Education designation will receive more than $1.6 million in special funding.

Details on each school’s plan can be found by visiting: http://static.k12.wv.us/news/2016/InnovationInEducation-Recommendation-December2016.pdf


West Virginia students who took the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) science exam in 2015 showed improvement according to data from the National Center for Educational Statistics. Both fourth- and eighth-grade students in West Virginia ranked 37th out of the 47 jurisdictions that participated.

Overall average scale scores increased for both fourth- and eighth-grade test-takers. Fourth-grade scores increased from 148 in 2009 to 151 in 2015, and eighth-grade scores increased from 145 in 2009 to 150 in 2015. The percent of students at or above proficient increased from 28.08 percent to 31.35 percent in grade four and from 22.10 percent to 26.61 percent in grade eight. West Virginia’s scores followed the national trend, which also showed improvement.

“I am pleased to see our students are moving in the right direction,” state Supt. Michael Martirano said. “In order to ensure our students are prepared for the 21st century world of work, we must focus on the development of critical thinking skills in the areas of math and science which the jobs of the future are going to require.”

NAEP, which often is referred to as “The Nation’s Report Card,” is the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what students in the United States know and can do in various subject areas. The 2015 science assessment was given between January and March, with more than 115,000 fourth-graders and nearly 111,000 eighth-graders from both public and private schools participating nationally.

Nationally, nearly all racial/ethnic groups made gains, and the white-black and white-Hispanic achievement gaps have narrowed in grades four and eight since 2009. Additionally, there was no statistically significant difference in average scores between boys and girls.

NAEP is a congressionally authorized project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. Full results for the nation and states are available online at: www.nationsreportcard.gov.


West Virginia’s graduation rate continues to increase, according to data released by state Supt. Michael Martirano. West Virginia’s 2015-16 graduation rate was 89.81 percent.

“Very few states can boast such a high graduation rate, making this a very proud moment for West Virginia,” Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said. “We have worked hard to increase student success in the Mountain State through programs that give our students the inspiration, support and resources that help them reach the graduation stage. We owe this news to all the teachers, parents, administrators and staff who make education a priority, and most importantly to our students who are committed to their futures. West Virginia is strong when our young people have a strong educational background, and I look forward to seeing where this generation will take us.”

The news came two years after the release of a five-year strategic plan, which outlines a goal of improving the graduation rate annually, with an ultimate goal of 90 percent for all West Virginia students by 2020.

“No other metric is more important in validating our progress than our graduation rate,” Martirano said. “When more young people achieve and graduate, our entire state becomes stronger.”

Several statewide initiatives contributed to the steady increase in the graduation rate. Most notable was the creation of the state’s Early Warning System, which tracks 45 different indicators – the most important being attendance, behavior and grades – to identify students at risk of dropping out. West Virginia also requires among the highest number of high school credits in the nation for graduation.

“Graduating from high school is a strong positive indicator of a brighter future,” Martirano said. “Individuals graduating from high school typically earn more in their lifetime than those who drop out and are less likely to be incarcerated or become involved in illegal drug use.”

Martirano also credited the state’s fully aligned system for preparing its young people.

“Our educational system has a strong foundation in our early learning programs where we focus on closing the achievement gap and ensuring all students are reading on grade level by grade three,” Martirano said. “Our students are benefiting from a fully aligned system of academic standards, statewide assessments and an accountability system, which all contribute to the increased graduation rate.”

West Virginia’s graduation rate has continued to rise throughout the last several years. Data from the U.S. Department of Education placed West Virginia among the top 20 states for graduation rates in 2014-15 with a rate of 86.5 percent, which was up from 84.5 percent in 2013-14.

In October, President Obama announced America’s graduation rate reached a new record high of 83.2 percent for school year 2014-15. The nation’s graduation rate, released a year behind the state release, reflects positive gains across the board for all reported groups, including students of color, low-income students, students with disabilities and English learners. West Virginia ranked fourth for the graduation rate of African-American students, sixth for low-socioeconomic students and 19th for special education students during the 2014-15 school year.

For additional information on any of the above items, contact Kristin Anderson at the West Virginia Department of Education Office of Communications at 304-558-2699 or Kristin.Anderson@k12.wv.us.