State Superintendent Michael Martirano released a video Tuesday in what he says will be the first in a series of talks about his goals for West Virginia’s education system.
Martirano said the series, which is based on his vision plan “One Voice, One Focus: All Students Achieving,” will be a way for the Department of Education to communicate with educators, parents, students and lawmakers about the “good things that are going on in our state.” Martirano intends to interview state education leaders in each segment.
The video, featuring an armchair discussion with Board of Education President Gayle Manchin, clocks in at nearly 20 minutes and covers topics like the board’s focus on student achievement, the implementation of Next Generation Content Standards and parental involvement in education.
Martirano starts the video with a few observations from his first two months in West Virginia. Martirano joined the department in September after directing the St. Mary’s County school district in Maryland for nine years.
“I’ve been very impressed by the board’s focus on improving student achievement,” he said.
While West Virginia currently ranks in the bottom half of nearly every national student achievement metric, slight improvements have been seen in recent years. Martirano, who drastically improved graduation rates in St. Mary’s County, has turned his sights on similar endeavors in West Virginia.
Part of improving student achievement, Martirano says, is the implementation of new education standards that call for “deeper levels” of learning.
Manchin said those standards have raised the bar for West Virginia and can be challenging for students, parents and teachers.
“But that’s what change is,” Manchin said. “It’s going in a different direction.”
That direction is still in its earliest stage. The standards, adopted by the board in 2010, weren’t fully implemented statewide until the start of the fall semester, and new assessments to monitor student progress won’t be used until this spring.
“We think it’s the right direction for the 21st century,” Manchin added.
The state’s top two education officials also discussed remediation efforts in McDowell County, which due to its secluded and rural landscape, doesn’t have the same resources other counties have.
“We have to bring resources to the school and make it the hub of support for families,” Manchin said, later adding that parental involvement in education is vital to improvement.
While Manchin did most of the talking, Martirano focused the discussion on topics found in his vision plan. The plan calls for improved department efficiency and student achievement, among other things. It can be read in full by clicking here.