CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- During the monthly West Virginia Board of Education meeting on Wednesday -- the same day of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's State of the State address -- board members established an "implementation timeline" for the public education agenda that the governor tasked them with in his address one year ago.
Three of the 18 items listed in the board's timeline have been marked "completed": reduce personal services within the Department of Education; devise a policy to involve local school boards in the hiring process; and reward teachers who become National Board certified.
The timeline/to-do list is comprised of items found in Tomblin's education reform bill (SB 359) introduced last year, in addition to a specific list of six major initiatives he charged the state school board with in a letter written last February.
While more bullet points on the implementation timeline might not be crossed off, the board has made headway on several of the other tasks, especially when it comes to college and career readiness and giving local school boards more control, board members say.
Over the past year, the board has helped implement simulated workplaces all over the state, which enhance vocational education and encourage individual learning. State school board member Lloyd Jackson has said that fact alone is "exactly the answer to what the governor's letter asked of us."
The board also has developed a policy designed to give local school boards more flexibility when designing school calendars -- allowing schools to move to year-round classes, if they choose.
However, the works in progress on the Board of Education's list are big ones, such as studying the option of alternative teacher certification programs, like Teach for America -- a long-controversial topic in West Virginia -- and implementing teacher training that ensures the state's third-graders are reading at grade level.
The government also plans to overhaul its professional-development system for teachers no later than 2020, according to the timeline, with plans to roll out a new accreditation system by the 2015-16 school year.
The board has another crucial objective on its timeline: Find a new state superintendent of schools.