By Jennifer Smith
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – New state Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Martirano laid out a six-step plan Wednesday on how he intends to move forward over the next few months. It was Martirano’s first meeting since he began the job in mid-September.
Martirano introduced his plan called “One Voice, One Focus: All Students Achieving Together.” It contains what he called ‘six guiding actions’ that will make the foundation for students pre-K through 12.
“The education of our students is critical. We just can’t leave things to chance,” the new superintendent. “There has to be a very organized fashion and a very methodical fashion on how we’re going to improve student achievement.”
Martirano said the plan is critical because there is much to do and little time to put it into practice.
“Our young people are depending on us. They don’t have time for us to figure this out. We have to respond and we have to be able to respond in a very meaningful and organized way that improves the results for our students,” explained Martirano.
The plan calls for: creating a world class education system, listening to students and teachers, organizing the structure of the Department of Education, conducting an efficiency audit, creating a key advisory group to help develop a long term plan and insuring more students graduate from high school.
“I’m a firm believer that the single-most indicator to improve and talks about the educational success is the graduation rate,” said Martirano. “From there everything else unpacks. You can begin to have conversation about vertically articulated pre-K programs, Kindergarten programs, AP programs, the performance on our assessment, attendance, because everything builds to that final goal of academic achievement and the graduation rate.”
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin took the results of a previous audit and created his education reform plan in 2013. Martirano said that document is the building block for the audit he intends to conduct. He wants to find out how efficient the department is as well as its workers.
Martirano said it all comes down to making sure every student gets an equal opportunity education.
“When a child drops out of school, it’s unconscionable. We need to do everything we can to make sure that a child has a high school diploma that is meaningful, that prepares them for college and careers and they can be productive citizens of our great state,” he stressed.