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W.Va. Superintendent Participates In National Conference

April 16, 2007

CHARLESTON, W.Va. _ State Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine, who is leading a systemic 21st century skills initiative in West Virginia, participated this week in the National School Boards Association Annual Conference in San Francisco.  

More than 10,000 school board members and education leaders attended the conference, which is the largest gathering of public officials in the nation and showcases world and national leaders who offer inspiration and insight to school leaders.  

Paine addressed 21st century skills and economic development on Sunday and was the featured speaker on Saturday where he discussed arts education in the 21st century.  

“The arts are vital to the success of the 21st century student,” Paine said. “Arts programs encourage students to think creatively and adopt fresh approaches. Classes such as music, visual art, theatre and dance challenge our perceptions and help develop ways of thinking that are visual rather than verbal. They foster creative thinking and help bridge language and other barriers among diverse cultures in a global society.”  

As educators nationwide consider ways to address the need for 21st-century learning, many are looking to West Virginia as a model.  

In 2005, West Virginia became the second state in the nation to join the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. The Partnership's framework puts a special emphasis on critical thinking, problem solving, communication skills, global awareness and business literacy.  

West Virginia has adopted six elements of 21st century learning that focus not only on the basics like math, science and reading, but also skills backed by the Partnership.  

The state Board of Education also has strengthened the curriculum to add rigor and increase alignment with national and international assessments. Those include the National Assessment for Education Progress, Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Program for International Student Assessment (PISA).  

“While we know our students must develop learning proficiency in the core subjects that have been the bedrock of America’s education, we also know that these core subjects must be joined by content of the 21st century,” Paine said.

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