CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) received six-month updates on Special Circumstance Reviews at its December meeting held today in Charleston. The West Virginia Department of Education’s (WVDE) Office of Support and Accountability was joined by representatives from Lincoln County and the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind (WVSDB) to provide details on the ongoing progress. Additionally, the WVBE voted to approve Lincoln County’s career technical education (CTE) report that was also presented during the meeting.
Lincoln County’s review began in March 2020 and was followed by a State of Emergency declared last November. This declaration was extended for an additional six months allowing the WVDE time to assist with issues outlined in the report. The Department’s Office of Support and Accountability remains actively engaged in working with the county to address findings. Today, the WVBE voted to extend the State of Emergency declaration an additional six months. The CTE report is the final area of county operations scheduled for review.
“I am pleased that the county continues to work closely with the Department and its representatives to ensure the systems and processes in place are not only operating properly, but are optimized for the benefit of our children, educators and staff,” said WVBE President Miller Hall. “We knew early in the process the changes required time, patience and persistence, and I am confident our combined and continuous effort is resulting in progress.”
The Lincoln County Special Circumstance Review along with the CTE report are available online.
The Board also heard an update from the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind. Members of the WVSDB leadership team and teachers attended the meeting and explained the new efficiencies, collaborations and improvements on campus that are creating new opportunities for learning, student and staff development and residential enhancements.
As part of the efforts, the WVDE combined the School for the Deaf and the School for the Blind into one unified facility.
“This was a major shift for us, but each day we observe progress in student success, school culture and relationships among students, faculty and staff,” said WVSDB Dean Melanie Hesse. “I firmly believe the hard work that is ongoing today will reap continuous benefits and rewards for our children in the years to come.”
“The Department has committed significant resources to both Lincoln County and the WVSDB. We are confident our collaboration is yielding positive results with lasting effects,” said State Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch. “The changes we need to see take time, and I am pleased we are ahead of schedule in many areas and consistently working in others to address the findings from the reviews.”
The Board approved a motion for the State Superintendent to continue to provide intensive support and monitoring of all aspects of the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind operations: academic, residential and administrative. Further, the West Virginia Board of Education directed the director of the Technical Assistance Center to jointly develop, deliver and monitor a training plan to assist teachers with evidence-based, effective and ongoing classroom instruction.
The WVSDB Special Circumstance Review is also available online.
Additionally, the WVBE received reports on both the four-year and five-year graduation rates, which have increased between 2013 and 2020. During that time span, the four-year graduation rate has increased from 81.39% in 2013 to 91.12% in 2021, an increase of almost 10-percentage points. The five-year rate has increased from 81.40% in 2013 to 91.67% in 2020. This year, the five-year rate continued to rise with an increase of slightly more than one percentage point from 2020 to 2021, but the four-year rate decreased by slightly less than one percentage point from 2020.
For details on graduation rates, visit the WVDE website.
A preliminary report on the population of children experiencing homelessness was also presented to the WVBE, which is the initial work of a legislatively directed study to review provided services, identify service gaps or barriers, and recommend statutory changes needed to overcome the service gaps or barriers. The WVDE is working in collaboration with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources to conduct the study. The preliminary report and latest counts of students experiencing homelessness can be found on the McKinney Vento section of the Department’s website.
In other WVBE news, the Board approved Fayette County’s request to close Gauley Bridge Elementary and consolidate it with Valley PK-8. The county says the request will improve academic offerings, operational costs and overall efficiencies.
The Board also placed three policies on public comment for 30 days. These include:
- Policy 2510 Assuring the Quality of Education: Regulations for Education Programs has been revised for the purpose of providing clarity regarding grading and the transfer of students from other locations.
- Policy 2520.13 West Virginia College- and Career-Readiness Programs of Study/Standards for Career Technical Education is being recommended for repeal and replacement. Changes include adding middle and high school elective offerings and updating definitions to align with federal requirements and guidelines (among others).
- Policy 7200 Intercounty Student Transfer Arrangements provides clarity to existing language.
Visit http://wvde.state.wv.us/policies/ to view these policies and submit public comments.
Finally, Dr. Stan Maynard announced this was his last meeting as a member of the West Virginia Board of Education. Upon his career retirement, he has relocated out-of-state. The Governor will appoint someone to the vacant board position. “You have been a tremendous member of this board if only for a short period of time,” said WVBE President Miller Hall. “We appreciate your service.”