CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's been nearly a year since Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin challenged the West Virginia Board of Education to tackle six major initiatives alongside his education reform bill. State education officials say the board has made progress, but there's still work to be done.
In a special meeting Wednesday, the board drafted a 500-page status report for the governor, outlining progress on the specific requests Tomblin made in February.
State school board members said they are especially pleased with the work that's been done regarding college and career readiness.
However, an overhaul of professional development, or continued training and education, for the state's teachers has proved to be the most important issue and the one that needs the most work, State Schools Superintendent Jim Phares said Wednesday.
Tomblin had asked the board to establish an annual professional development master plan and to "aggressively pursue" the use of Regional Education Service Agencies to create efficiencies and decentralize the delivery of professional development services.
Board members have established a committee to research better ways to help teachers with their professional development, and have nearly tripled the number of teachers trained statewide over the past year through a local-control initiative
However, Phares said there's still a lot of work to be done before the Department of Education reaches its goal of becoming "a clearinghouse for professional development."
"That's the thing that has come out in all of these different reports . . . no matter what you look at. When Project 24 comes through, you're going to see a very prevalent theme that deals with professional development," Phares said. "The biggest concern about the calendar bill is how do we make time for professional development. We've got to get focused, targeted professional development for kids coming straight out of school."
Also among Tomblin's list of priorities outlined in February were the establishment of a Commission on Small School Systems, to review the existing county structure; certification for elementary teachers, to ensure third-grade proficiency; providing high school students with access to community and technical college staff; requiring all career centers to adopt standards laid out by the Southern Regional Education Board; and pursuing Project 24, a program developed by former governor Bob Wise that integrates technology into everyday lessons for students to enhance college readiness.