December 15, 2017 - Volume 37 Issue 12


West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steven Paine and Nicholas County Superintendent Dr. Donna Burge-Tetrick issued a statement Wednesday following a meeting with Federal Emergency Management Agency officials and a dispute resolution contractor regarding the Nicholas County schools:

“We are pleased to report that representatives from the State Board of Education and the Nicholas County Board of Education had a very productive meeting with representatives from FEMA this week. The meeting focused on how we can work together to identify a facilities plan that meets the needs of all students in Nicholas County. We collectively agreed to work as a team to be innovative and develop a plan that best serves all stakeholders. Our meeting laid the foundation for a path forward and we are committed to supporting each other through a joint and open dialogue to identify a resolution.

“We want to assure the public that we are working toward a solution together and believe the best days in Nicholas County are yet to come.”

The West Virginia Board of Education adopted two policies and placed another two on 30-day public comment during its November meeting in Charleston. Adopted policies were previously available online for a 30-day comment period, and comments were considered in the adopted policies. Here is a brief description of each policy:

Adopted Policies

  • 3234 – School Calendar:Six faculty senate meetings are now required with one being held before the commencement of the instructional term and one at the end of the employment term. The revised policy also states that instructional minutes are now part of state code requiring a minimum of 315 instructional minutes for elementary schools, 330 instructional minutes for middle schools and 345 instructional minutes for high schools. Additionally, counties now have the option to add 30 minutes to the minimum instructional day to accumulate time equivalent for up to five days to use for school cancellations due to inclement weather, and up to five days for professional learning experiences for teachers when students are not present. This policy became effective on December 11, 2017.
  • 5202 – Minimum Requirements for the Licensure of Professional/Paraprofessional Personnel and Advanced Salary Classifications: Policy revisions are intended to provide additional flexibility for the licensure of aspiring educators. Requirements have not changed but have been expanded and provide additional options to meet existing requirements. Additional options include exemption from the Praxis content test for individuals who hold a master’s degree and five years of directly related work experience or a doctorate in a content area. The revised policy also allows for individuals who hold a master’s degree and who completed a Speech Language Pathology Program, are licensed to practice in another state, hold a valid West Virginia Board of Examiners in Speech Pathology and Audiology license and valid national certification by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), and passing scores on the current Praxis exam to teach in West Virginia for two years conditionally without a school certificate. The revised policy also allows eLearning courses to be used for certification renewal with the option to renew for one year with only three semester hours. Finally, the revised policy allows an individual in a medical field to serve as a temporary replacement for up to three days for the assigned coach or trainer during a season, while individuals holding a valid Professional Student Support certificate are eligible to coach without the Coaching Authorization. This policy became effective on December 11, 2017.

Policies Out for 30-Day Public Comment

  • 2510 – Approval for Educator Preparation Programs:The revised policy is intended to ensure students are college and career ready, while providing additional flexibility to counties. Major revisions include changing the minimum number of required graduation credits from 24 to 21 and changing the number of required high school social studies credits from four to three. Finally, the revised policy changes the non-weighted course grading scale to a grading scale used by virtual schools and most colleges, which will make 0-59 an F, 60-69 a D, 70-79 a C, 80-89 a B and 90-100 an A. The additional changes focus on personalizing education to meet the needs of individual students while maintaining rigorous educational standards.
  • 2460 – Educational Purpose and Acceptable Use of Electronic Resources, Technologies and the Internet:The revised policy is designed to set forth recommendations, guidelines and responsibilities for any individual using the K-12 network and electronic devices. Districts must use Policy 2460 as their Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) but may incorporate additional, more stringent guidelines closely aligned with local directives. Each user on the K-12 network is made aware of the contents and must agree to the AUP prior to using any electronic device on the K-12 network. Individuals without a signed AUP would be prohibited from using any electronic device on the K-12 network. For students under 18, a parent signature is required. Language throughout the document was updated to encompass the ever-widening presence of social media and to comply with updated local, state and federal laws and policies.

To review Board policies and comment online, visit: http://wvde.state.wv.us/policies/

West Virginia Board of Education President Tom Campbell on December 1 issued a statement following action taken by the West Virginia Board of Education regarding the superintendent of the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind:

“The recent action taken by the West Virginia Board of Education to terminate the Superintendent of the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind was a State Board of Education decision. The State Board of Education is solely responsible for its decision. This was not a decision of the State Superintendent.

“As with all personnel matters, the Board followed internal processes to arrive at its decision, which are consistent with standard operating procedures. We do not disclose details about the Board’s personnel actions and are precluded from commenting about discussions held in executive session. Any questions regarding a specific employee should be directed to that individual.

“Although this personnel action involved a change of leadership at the Schools for the Deaf and the Blind, it does not change the bright future of the Schools and its mission. The Board stands by its action and remains committed to acting in the best interest of the Schools for the Deaf and the Blind, its students, staff and valued community supporters. I look forward to a long and productive future relationship with the Schools, focusing on the success and achievement of its students.” 

During the West Virginia Board of Education’s monthly meeting for December, officials from Governor Jim Justice’s office, the West Virginia Department of Education and Marshall University celebrated Computer Science Education Week, a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) initiative that teaches the importance of computer, math and science skills.

Governor Justice’s chief of staff, Mike Hall, presented a proclamation declaring the week of December 4-10, 2017, as Computer Science Education Week throughout the state. The international program is designed to increase awareness among West Virginia students about job opportunities available in the computer science sector and advance STEM initiatives and programs in West Virginia schools.

Throughout the week, a number of students participated in an Hour of Code, a global movement that includes an introduction to basic computer science information, skills and practical activities – designed for students to explore computer and math science from a fun and engaging perspective.

“We know the jobs of the future in West Virginia are going to require STEM skill sets,” state Supt. Steven Paine said. “West Virginia leaders are working to strengthen the state’s economy by attracting new industry to the state, especially within the STEM field, and we must do our part to ensure our students are prepared to meet those future workforce needs.”

Additionally, Paine joined Marshall University President Jerome Gilbert to sign a partnership agreement symbolizing the collaborative work between the Department of Education and Marshall University to promote STEM education in West Virginia.

The agreement outlined the mutual goals of: improving student engagement, preparation and achievement in science, technology, engineering and math education (STEM); building educator capacity in STEM through credentialing and professional learning; and increasing workforce readiness through coding, computer science and cybersecurity to support STEM learning. A complete version of the partnership agreement can be found by visiting: http://static.k12.wv.us/tt/2017/muwvde_stempartnership.pdf.

A complete version of Governor Justice’s proclamation can be found by visiting: http://static.k12.wv.us/tt/2017/Computer-Science-Education-Week.pdf

Officials from the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) and the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources announced in November an interagency partnership, which will enable students in career and technical education programs across the state to gain authentic work experiences while helping to revitalize West Virginia’s state parks.

Student-led companies, as part of the Simulated Workplace program, will use their technical skills at 35 state parks, seven state forests, the Greenbrier River Trail and the North Bend Rail Trail. More than 24,000 students within 1,200 Simulated Workplaces will complete a wide range of needed updates such as construction projects, repair of heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems and restoration of bath houses.

“Today’s announcement marks the beginning of a multi-year partnership, which will not only provide students with real-world experience but also result in a long-term impact on some of West Virginia’s most prized resources – our state parks,” state Supt. Steven Paine said. “This partnership will provide opportunities for students to both enhance their leadership skills and gain practical experience they can rely on when pursuing future careers.”

Students will apply technical skills to enhance state parks throughout the state. Many of them have not been updated for more than 30 years.

“The West Virginia state parks system’s staff is excited to be working with the instructors and students from our vocational and technical schools,” West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Director Stephen McDaniel said. “This partnership will help us meet growing maintenance needs at our state parks and forests and will greatly benefit the students, our parks and the citizens of West Virginia.”

For more information on the partnership, visit: http://wvde.state.wv.us/player.php?m=m4&vid=simulated-workplace/stateparks.

A copy of the partnership compact can be found at: http://static.k12.wv.us/tt/2017/stateparks_compact_poster.pdf.

National representatives have recognized West Virginia’s exemplary work in improving reading proficiency across the state. The governor’s office, West Virginia Legislature and West Virginia Board of Education were recognized with the State Pacesetter award for their implementation and support of the statewide Leaders of Literacy: Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, which is the state’s effort to close the literacy achievement gap for West Virginia children ages birth through grade three.

In 2013, the governor’s office, the legislature, the state school board and the West Virginia Department of Education came together to launch the literacy campaign to accelerate efforts to assure all students are reading at grade level by the end of the third grade. West Virginia was the first state to unanimously pass legislation and policy to support a statewide Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

“Research tells us that one of the biggest indicators of future student success is the ability to read,” state Supt. Steven Paine said. “If we ensure students are reading on grade level by the end of third grade, we lay the foundation for students to flourish throughout their educational careers. The work to support the success of all West Virginia students starts with policies that impact children from birth through third grade.”

Barbara O’Brien, policy director for the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, highlighted the following efforts in West Virginia during a ceremony earlier this month:

  • Passage of state board Policy 2512: Transformative System of Support for Early Literacy and of House Bill 4618, which focus on implementation of a county-level framework to ensure children become proficient readers by third grade and are on track for high school graduation and college/career readiness;
  • 40 counties’ use of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to ensure 27,268 children from birth to age five receive new children’s books monthly through their fifth birthdays;
  • A school readiness approach that includes families, schools and communities;
  • County Collaborative Early Childhood Teams that emphasize the importance of high-quality early literacy practices;
  • West Virginia’s Universal Pre-K program, which has continued to grow in participation, quality and collaboration and was the original catalyst that led to a statewide, comprehensive approach to early learning;
  • West Virginia’s status as one of five states in the nation to meet all 10 National Institute of Early Education Research quality pre-K benchmarks;
  • Having all 55 counties include school attendance in their Grade-Level Reading Action Plans; and
  • West Virginia’s status as one of 36 states that included chronic absence as a measure in its Every Student Succeeds Act state plan.

In part because of the literacy campaign, a 2016 report by New America’s Education Policy Program showed West Virginia leads the nation in developing children’s literacy skills. The report ranked West Virginia as one of five states identified as “walking” or making solid strides toward comprehensive birth-to-third grade policy.

The West Virginia Legislature currently allocates $5.7 million to the campaign, which has enabled county early literacy teams to have the resources necessary to advance efforts toward third grade literacy proficiency.

More about the Campaign for Grade Level Reading is available at: https://wvde.state.wv.us/leaders-of-literacy/.

West Virginia’s graduation rate continues to hover at almost 90 percent, according to data released by the West Virginia Department of Education. West Virginia’s 2016-17 graduation rate was 89.40 percent. The graduation rate dropped slightly when compared to the previous year’s rate of 89.81 percent, but it includes more individual graduates. During school year 2016-17, 17,400 students graduated in the four-year cohort. That compares to 16,826 in 2015-16.

Sixty-eight of West Virginia’s 116 high schools reported graduation rates of 90 percent or above for the 2016-2017 school year. Schools that achieved a graduation rate of 100 percent include: Paw Paw High School, Pickens Elementary/High School and Paden City High School.

“Ensuring that our students graduate high school prepared for college and careers is a top priority for West Virginia,” state Supt. Steven Paine said. “Our state is poised for extraordinary job growth, and it is our duty to ensure we are graduating students to meet the future workforce needs. I am thrilled to see so many students challenging themselves to strive for greatness and earn their diploma.”

West Virginia’s graduation rate is one of the strongest in the country. Data released from the U.S. Department of Education placed West Virginia among the top states for graduation rates in 2015-16. (The national data lags behind the state-released data.) The state’s graduation rate has continued to rise throughout the last several years. West Virginia also saw a significant increase in graduation rates for the five-year cohort, moving from 87.4 percent in 2015-16 to 90.3 percent in 2016-17.

Several statewide initiatives contributed to West Virginia’s strong graduation rate. Most notable is the creation of the state’s Early Warning System, which tracks 45 different indicators. The most important of those are attendance, behavior and grades, which identify students at risk of dropping out. The system, which has been used since 2011, provides educators at all levels with easy access to data and research-based information to identify students at risk of dropping out. Earlier identification of at-risk students allows educators to provide interventions and change students’ trajectory.

The West Virginia Department of Education provided the information above. For more information, contact Kristin Anderson at the department’s Communications Office at (304) 558-2699 or kristin.anderson@k12.wv.us. You also can follow the department on Facebookand Twitter.