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Tomblin orders review of middle school curriculum

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin commissioned a 10-month review of the classes offered by West Virginia's middle schools on Monday, signing the first of several executive orders expected as part of his push to improve public education in the state.

The order follows up on a recent study by the multistate Southern Regional Education Board that called for beginning college and career readiness in the middle grades.

"Research shows our children make life-changing decisions in middle school and, compared nationally, our students' achievement declines significantly in fifth through eighth grade," Tomblin said in a statement.

The order said identifying a student's career goals will make it easier "to motivate the student and connect academic subjects and lessons to real life." And while it said four-year college degrees remain a critical part of education, "research indicates that many of today's high-paying, high-demand jobs require, and in the future will require, certifications or highly focused skill sets, rather than traditional degree qualifications."

Tomblin wants his 19-member commission to propose ways to act on the study's recommendations. Its findings are to be submitted to the governor, the state Board of Education and a legislative oversight committee by Jan. 15, 2014. Commission members will include a principal and two teachers from middle schools, five citizens including two from groups representing teachers, two state school board members and higher education officials.

The order emerges from Tomblin's ongoing campaign to improve public education. The campaign includes his pending legislative proposal targeting such topics as third-grade reading levels, high school-level college and career readiness, teacher hiring and transfers, and the school calendar. He earlier enlisted the state Board of Education to pursue policy changes within its powers as part of his push.


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