Introduction

In the seminal case of Pauley v. Bailey, commonly known as the Recht case, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals found that public education in West Virginia is a fundamental constitutional right. The Legislature has a duty to establish a thorough and efficient system of free schools and the West Virginia Board of Education (WVBOE or the Board) is charged with the general supervision of that system. Through the years, both before and after Recht, legislators and Board members, often with leadership from governors, have sought to fulfill those constitutional duties. Although the courts have defined what constitutes a thorough and efficient system of education, many factors combine to make that an ever-moving target, not the least of which are changes in the economy and job markets, the increasing need for post-secondary education and burgeoning new technologies.

At the direction of Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, the "Education Efficiency Audit of West Virginia's Primary and Secondary Education System" focused on "how West Virginia's educational system can be better designed to meet the needs of students, elevate their aspirations, and prepare them for post-secondary education and careers." In January 2012, Public Works, LLC delivered the results of the audit and the Board was asked to respond to the recommendations found in the report. Our complete responses are included in Part II.

However, the Board does not believe that simply responding fulfills its constitutional duty. Although charged with general supervision, the Board views its role as more than supervisory. We must lead and chart the path forward. To this end, this document will address the overarching themes that go beyond any single recommendation or group of recommendations. Our duty is to provide the ideas, direction, inspiration, and, yes, supervision necessary to secure that fundamental constitutional right of a thorough and efficient system of free schools for each and every student in West Virginia.

The intent of Part I of the WVBOE's Call to Action is not to address every facet of the Education Efficiency Audit report or provide a detailed action plan for each recommendation; the WVBOE has responded to each individual recommendation in Part II.

Part I outlines the Board's vision for taking immediate action on the most critical measures, items we refer to as game changers. We present Part I to encourage the reader to look beyond the Education Efficiency Audit as a checklist for changes, to how its themes can positively affect the future of our most precious resource — our students.

It is important to note that the audit themes included in Part I are intentionally not in the same order as the original audit document. We have ordered the sections to align with the Board's priorities in addressing the measures we consider crucial for immediate action. Part II, the WVBOE's audit response, follows the same order as the original audit document for ease of cross-reference.

With our students in the forefront, we titled this report "From Audit to Action, Students First."

To determine what student-centered actions should look like beyond the audit, we used the following process:

  • Hours of discussion and debate among members
  • Ongoing and constant input and feedback from the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE)
  • Interviews with students, educators and service personnel at the local, district and state level
  • Attendance by members at almost all of the statewide public forums conducted by Vision Shared
  • Consideration of the report of those forums by Vision Shared
  • Consideration of numerous articles, editorials and opinion pieces in the media of West Virginia

These are just a few of the sources considered. As the work of the Board continues, we welcome and will seek additional input from these and other sources.

While the WVBOE supports the overwhelming majority of the report's recommendations for improvement and increased efficiency, we have a broader mission: that of making a difference for each child in our state by assuring our system is focused on better serving each individual child. Our mission is reflected in the details of our three strategic goals: Know, Behave, Accomplish. We realize the education system cannot be operated on magic bullets, but must involve all stakeholders collaborating to replicate our most effective learning systems today and continually planning for what will make effective learning systems in the years ahead.