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Michael Martirano: Project serves to review standards

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Michael Martirano: Project serves to review standards

On July 8, the West Virginia Department of Education, in conjunction with West Virginia University and the West Virginia Board of Education, launched Academic Spotlight, a community evaluation of the West Virginia Next Generation Standards.

I believe that this evaluation is the most important educational work in our state right now.

The standards we are asking the community to provide feedback on are the benchmarks for assuring our students graduate college- and career-ready. It is imperative we get this right for the future of our children.

The West Virginia Next Generation standards were meticulously developed for West Virginia students using input from more than 600 teachers and administrators less than five years ago.

Since that time, more than 3,000 educators have contributed to creating instructional development resources for our teachers.

It is important to realize that nearly early every state in the United States has developed similar standards. However, the West Virginia Next Generation standards were designed and developed to meet the needs of West Virginia students. It is our intent that these standards assure our students are competitive in the global workforce and have the same opportunities as students in other states.

To clear up any misunderstanding, these standards are not curriculum. Instead the standards are a guide for teachers to help our children learn and thrive by setting goals for what students should know and be able to do at the end of each grade level.

A lack of standards has the potential to destabilize the foundation that the education system is built upon. These standards provide a consistent benchmark for 20,000 teachers across the state to measure our students’ academic progress, select resources, record grades in a course and assess classrooms in an ongoing fashion.

This Academic Spotlight project is an opportunity for state educators, parents and community residents alike to reflect on their experience with our standards as they have been used over the past few years.

It is an opportunity to provide a forum to hear all sides, review the standards and make adjustments where necessary. It is an opportunity to find common ground on the standards, while maintaining the important momentum we have achieved and continue to put our students’ needs first. It is an opportunity for everyone to be involved.

The Academic Spotlight website will serve as a statewide town hall meeting and is open for anyone to comment on specific standards in English language arts and math.

I want residents and stakeholders to know they are being heard. The teachers of our great state have told me that these standards work. I believe in these standards, but I also know there is always room for improvement.

The website is open to collect thoughtful comments on individual standards, and will remain open until September 30, in the hope that we will receive substantial high-quality, critical feedback.

It is time we put this discussion to rest and address other important issues in our state. We believe this open forum will provide the direction and insight we need to accomplish this end.

Dr. Michael Martirano is a life-long educator and currently serves the State Superintendent of Schools for West Virginia.

Provide input on the Next Generation Standards at WVAcademicSpotlight.StateStandards.org