January 17, 2020 - Volume 40 Issue 2


CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Researchers from the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) have partnered with the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) and Marshall University’s College of Education and Professional Development to conduct a multi-year study to determine the long-term impact of high-quality early learning programming on later student achievement. Nearly 800 children from seven West Virginia counties are included in this initial study, with a planned expansion to additional counties in the upcoming school years.

The study aims to determine how children who attend a West Virginia Universal Pre-K program fare in the areas of math, language, literacy and social skills compared to those children who did not attend a West Virginia Universal Pre-K program. The study also aims to determine the overall quality of programming in early grades.

“The West Virginia Universal Pre-K program has continuously engaged in initiatives to increase quality and effectively support children,” said Dr. Milagros Nores, NIEER’s Co-Director for Research, who also serves as the Principal Investigator for the West Virginia study. “We engaged with this longitudinal evaluation to understand children’s preschool through grade 3 progress and support the West Virginia Department of Education’s continuous improvement efforts.”

NIEER recommends that pre-k through grade 3 instructional leaders and educators provide a strong and purposeful focus on instructional supports to provide children with regular opportunities to engage in higher-level thinking skills, such as problem solving and questioning. The study also notes that professional learning should be tailored to differentiate learning for children to ensure that the gains found in pre-k can be sustained into kindergarten and beyond.

“We are extremely pleased to have the opportunity to partner with NIEER with this study highlighting specific information about how we can help make systemic improvements to ultimately increase student achievement across all grade levels,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Steven Paine. “It is critical that we begin to address gaps in achievement early through a comprehensive approach that looks at the whole child—not just their academic development.”

Preliminary findings have been provided by NIEER to assist the WVDE’s Office of Early & Elementary Learning as they work with districts, schools and collaborative partners via the WVDE’s pre-k through grade 5 Taskforce on a Comprehensive Approach to Early & Elementary Learning to design an infrastructure of support for school districts and schools to make needed improvements.

Additionally, NIEER recommends focusing on improving classroom environments, instruction and learning opportunities for children in ages pre-k through grade 3, and that pre-k through grade 3 instructional leaders and educators provide a strong and purposeful focus on instructional supports to provide children with regular opportunities to engage in higher-level thinking skills.

The lessons learned and recommendations from this study are being utilized to further develop systems of support to positively impact pre-k through grade 3 programming statewide.

Charleston, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) reports that counties are using allocations from House Bill (HB) 206 to support students’ growing social and emotional needs to hire new personnel, train existing staff, invest in programs and contract for outside services.

HB 206 was passed during a special legislative session in June 2019. The bill allocated an additional $30.5 million to counties in the form of block grants and allowed them to tailor the resources to meet the local needs of their students. Counties have used the new funding to provide direct social and emotional support services to address growing needs that have resulted from the opioid crisis and an increase in poverty rates. Additional funding has been used to:

  • Hire 115 new student support personnel statewide;
  • Contract with agencies to provide mental health and social support services within 31 counties, equating to 59 full-time employees;
  • Introduce and support programs that address the expanding needs of students and families;
  • Provide additional training for educators and staff such as trauma-informed training; and
  • Maintain current student support personnel positions over the state aid formula that may have otherwise been eliminated due to budget shortfalls.

Integrating professional student support personnel as members of the school staff empowers principals to better manage and deploy resources. School counselors, nurses, psychologists, social workers, Communities in Schools coordinators and attendance directors are among the professional support staff hired by counties. Even with funding available, the need outweighs the availability of personnel and several counties report difficulty attracting and hiring qualified candidates.

“I commend our Legislature for the leadership it has shown in making critical resources available to support our schools and counties,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steven Paine. “It has been six months since the passing of HB 206, and counties have moved quickly and aggressively to use the funding to meet their needs.”

Many counties have noted that the timing of the passage of HB 206 was a barrier to using the funds this school year. Because funding was allocated in late July 2019, many counties have plans to continue to hire additional personnel.

“Student support professionals play a critical role in ensuring school safety, fostering a positive school climate and providing school-based mental health services,” Paine said.

For county-by-county data on student support services, visit https://wvde.us/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Student.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) voted Dec. 23. 2019, to place two policies on public comment that will provide additional flexibility to counties in scheduling, allow for innovative practices in the personalization of students’ graduation requirements while also ensuring consistent measures for school and district accountability.

The WVBE unanimously voted to place Policy 2510, Assuring the Quality of Education: Regulations for Education Programs on a public comment period during its monthly meeting in Charleston. Often thought of as the WVBE’s flagship policy, Policy 2510 still requires 22 credits for high school graduation but divides those credits between prescribed and personalized.

Ten credits are prescribed including two each in math, English language arts (ELA), social studies and science, as well as one physical education and one health credit. The remaining 12 credits are personalized credits individualized to each student based on their personalized education plan. Those credits include two each in math and ELA, one each in social studies, science and arts, four personalized credits based on students’ post-secondary plans and a new flex credit. The flex credit allows students to choose either a career technical education (CTE) course, computer science course and an additional social studies or science course.

“When revising Policy 2510, our goal was to provide counties with as much flexibility as possible to personalize education for each student based on their goals,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steven Paine. “This added flexibility will empower counties to be innovative in scheduling and allow students to take course work that is most relevant to their future plans.”

The proposed policy also requires all schools to implement a comprehensive career exploration middle school experience beginning in July 2021. This experience may include but is not limited to CTE foundational courses, stand-alone career exploration courses, mini-courses, field trips, guest speakers and career mentors.

“Exposing students to CTE late in high school will no longer fill the pipeline with the level of skilled workers needed in our state,” said West Virginia Board of Education President David Perry.

Under the new policy, all public high schools and middle schools must offer a full-time virtual school option for grades 6-12 either through the West Virginia Virtual School program at the state level or through a county virtual school offering.

“Policy 2510 is the flagship State Board policy. The revisions represent our beliefs in providing more flexibility to counties and personalization of learning for students,” Perry said. “I applaud the work that has gone into the suggested revisions, which are consistent with feedback and recommendations from a variety of stakeholders including educators, parents, principals, county chief instructional leaders, superintendents and educator associations.”

The WVBE also unanimously voted to place Policy 2322, West Virginia System of Support and Accountability on public comment. The proposed policy revises the accountability system for public schools and districts and presents an aligned set of expectations to transform schools into outcome-focused and accountable learning organizations. The revised policy also outlines responsibilities for county board of education members as they relate to accountability for student outcomes in their districts. Finally, Policy 2322 now incorporates Policy 2200, Local School Improvement Councils (LSICs), which provides guidance to engage parents, families and communities in continuous improvement.

- For more information, contact Kristin Anderson, West Virginia Department of Education Executive Director /Media Relations • Communications • Marketing • Publications / kristin.anderson@k12.wv.us / (304) 558-2699 ext.53465

Open for Public Comment

NOTICE: Comments, as submitted, shall be filed with the West Virginia Secretary of State's Office and open for public inspection and copying for a period of not less than five years.

POLICY 4336 - West Virginia School Bus Transportation, Regulations, Procedures, and Specifications for the Design and Equipment of School Buses (URL)
Pending Board Action

POLICY 5112 - Athletic and Limited Football Trainers in the Public Schools of West Virginia (URL)
Pending Board Action

POLICY 5901 - Regulations for Alternative Certification Programs for the Education of Teachers (URL)
Pending Board Action

POLICY 3300 - Public Charter Schools (URL)
Until 4:00 PM January 14
Comment Online!

POLICY 2322 - West Virginia System of Support and Accountability (URL)
Until 4:00 PM January 24
Comment Online!

POLICY 2510 - Assuring the Quality of Education: Regulations for Education Programs (URL)
Until 4:00 PM January 24
Comment Online!