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State Board Of Education Keeps Goals, Bends Methods

August 3, 2011
BY MIRANDA STOKES, Staff Writer
At the Wetzel County Board of Education meeting held Aug. 1 Superintendent Diane Watt shared with board members the goals set by State Superintendent Dr. Jorea Marple. Watt recently attended a meeting with Dr. Marple wherein department goals and actions were established for the coming school year. Those goals were to: increase student achievement at the state, national, and international levels; positively affect students’ growth; and prepare students for beyond the classroom. While these goals are essentially what schools reach for every year, the approach to accomplishing those goals has changed.

In the past, the state board attacked lowered test scores by constantly changing test standardizations and creating programs and initiatives for teachers to use in the classroom designed to help raise test scores. However, the board now realizes these intended helpful aids have instead overwhelmed both students and teachers to meet unrealistic timelines and standards. “We’ve always worried about student achievement,” Watt said. “But things have spiraled uncontrollably.”

Instead, Dr. Marple would like schools to continue using the initiatives, but this time at the discretion of the teacher. This approach to student achievement has been dubbed “Support for Personalized Learning.” With this approach, the same expectations are there, however the path to reach those expectations is less rigid. Watt stated teachers need this flexibility for the students to be successful, because every student is different. In other words, the focus of these programs will be driven by the child’s needs instead of the program’s timelines.

The other big change the state board would like to see is more rigorous course work, including more inquiry-based problem solving rather than facts and figures memorization. Watt emphasized that teaching students how to gather and utilize information to problem solve far benefits students in present and future learning while memorization techniques prove to be short-term approaches to learning. Schools will also aim to better guide students to be successful in high school and beyond through yearly evaluations and experiential learning.

Placing emphasis of AP courses over dual credit courses is another recommendation by the state board to better prepare and educate students as, generally speaking, AP courses are more rigorous. However, Watt noted that Wetzel County has worked very hard to create dual credit courses and so the board will aim to not lose those courses, but rather work toward ensuring those classes meet the same standards as AP courses.

Lastly, Watt added that many high school principals and teachers are scheduled to meet with members of West Virginia Northern Community College in the near future to have an open discussion on how to bridge the learning gap that has become evident as students transition out of high school into college. Particularly in areas such as mathematics, there’s been a rise in the number of incoming college students needing remedial courses. This direct communication between high school and college administrations and faculty is hoped to help the high schools pinpoint problem areas and implement teaching solutions.
 
 
 

 

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