Charleston, W. Va. – West Virginia’s youngest students are getting a high quality education much to the credit of the West Virginia Board of Education (WVBOE). Board members recently approved revised Policy 2525: West Virginia’s Universal Access to Quality Early Education System. Policy 2525 sets the standards for implementing high quality universal pre-kindergarten programs. This policy covers all public school preschool programs and any community program such as Head Start or child care that contracts with the county school system to provide a WV Pre-k classroom.
Health and safety standards are now a part of the policy. Included in these standards are requirements that meals must be provided if a pre-k classroom is in operation for more than four hours; all children who enter a program must have age appropriate immunizations; and classroom size will be limited to no more than 20 children. All pre-k classrooms not administered by the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) must be licensed through the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR) Day Care Licensing.
Other revisions include a more defined composition of the review team to include three representatives from the WVDE, three from WVDHHR and three from Head Start. This review team will evaluate the quality and content of the county plans and whether counties are maximizing funding. Local Education Agencies (LEA) will have oversight for the WV Pre-k classrooms in their counties; however, the WVBOE and the Secretary for the WVDHHR will maintain state oversight.
The WVBOE is dedicated to providing pre-school to every four-year-old child in the Mountain State. Earlier this year, each county school system submitted individual pre-k plans to the WVDE. Those plans have been approved by the WVDE and counties are moving forward with implementation. In addition, thanks to the unwavering support of the WVBOE and the Governor, the West Virginia Legislature provided school aid formula funding for pre-k programs during the most recent legislative session.
Recently, a study published by the Edward Zigler Center for Child Development and Social Policy at Yale University cited West Virginia as having the most educated preschool teachers in the country. The study revealed that 66 percent of West Virginia’s preschool teachers hold a master’s degree. The research also showed that the most effective preschool programs have teachers with bachelor’s or master’s degrees. West Virginia is ranked sixth in the nation for pre-kindergarten by the National Institute for Early Education Research.
For more information about early childhood education and West Virginia’s Universal Pre-k Program, contact Dr. Cathy Jones at the WVDE at (304) 558-8098.