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Teachers, officials find common ground

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Teachers, officials find common ground
By Sarah Plummer, Register-Herald Reporter

Teachers and administrators are supporting the West Virginia Department of Education’s move toward repealing and replacing the state’s current K-12 academic standards, but they hope this change will stick.

Fayette County Superintendent Terry George said the he will support efforts to improve student achievement across West Virginia.

“My view on this, and a view I think most superintendents and classroom teachers hold, is that we would like a set of standards we can stick with, an assessment tool that reflects the content and several years to allow us to determine how successful we are,” he said.

This is another bump in a long line of curriculum and assessment changes leading up to the current Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives. These proposed standards, which deviate from the national standards, are known as West Virginia College- and Career-Readiness Standards.

Revisions and recommendations are currently on public comment through Dec. 14 and will likely be taken up again by the State Board of Education in its December meeting.

Raleigh County Superintendent David Price said he believes the proposed standards are more condensed and clarify language.

“We want to make sure we have standards that are rigorous, that are written in a language that can be understood by people and make sure our students are ready for college or career, whatever they choose,” he said.

Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, said these proposed changes were done “the right way.”

“It was teachers and experts who came together to look at the standards and make recommendations,” he said. “The teachers are the ones who deal with the standards each and every day. We just hope politicians don’t get involved and do away with the expertise provided by the teachers.”

Lee said he believes the next step after implementing new standards will be examining testing statewide and to see there can be flexibility and limits to the amount conducted by the state.

Oak Hill High School teacher Tega McGuffin said she personally likes the current standards, but “respects and understands the concerns presented by the education community, citizens and parents.”

Between July and September 2015, the public submitted public comments on the existing English Language Arts and mathematics academic standards. These suggestions were considered when developing the revised standards.

“If they feel like they need to address these changes through an appeal, I can respect the process,” she said. “I feel like it is important to find rigorous standards and keep them. Students and teachers need consistency in the classroom. If we keep changing with every educational fad and political whim, it’s going to be impossible to measure student growth.”

In addition to simplifying the presentation of standards for teachers and parents, the proposed standards increase problem-solving skills with a connection to college, careers and life skills.

They make standards more grade appropriate and include handwriting in grades K-4. The proposed standards also explicitly mention cursive writing instruction for grades 2 and 3.

The proposed changes also include standards specific to calculus with the expectation the course will be available to all students.

To comment on Policy 2520.2B, visit wvde.state.wv.us/policies/