W.Va. Classrooms Becoming 21st Century Learning Centers

Posted: August 21, 2008
West Virginia schools are adding rigor and relevance as they make the transition to 21st century classrooms. Starting this school year, what students learn in their classrooms will include a significantly increased level of rigor.

"We must move beyond No Child Left Behind," said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine. "While NCLB has done an excellent job of closing the achievement gap among all students, it has not challenged our best and brightest as well as all students to exceed their reach. Now, with the 21st Century Learning and Teaching program, West Virginia is committed to closing the gap between the knowledge and skills students learn in school and the knowledge and skills they need for the 21st century workplace."

As educators nationwide consider ways to address the need for 21st-century learning, many are looking to West Virginia as a model. What West Virginia has done is update its Content Standards and Objectives to add rigor, relevance and 21st century skills such as critical thinking and problem solving. The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) is doing this by aligning state standards not only with the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) but also with international standards found in international assessments including the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMSS).

"I am excited for our schools to open," Paine said. "Several education stakeholders have worked tirelessly to develop the new Content Standards and Objectives. The time has finally come to introduce 21st century rigor into the classroom. We have a long road ahead of us but I am confident that ultimately our educators will master a new way of teaching and our students will excel on national and international assessments thanks to the 21st Century Learning and Teaching program."

West Virginia's 21st Century Learning and Teaching program also includes a more challenging assessment to replace the West Virginia Educational Standards Test (WESTEST). WESTEST 2 is an assessment that increases the expectations of what a student should know and be able to do upon graduation from high school. At the core of the plan are teachers who are eager to bring 21st century learning to their classrooms. The Department of Education and the West Virginia Board of Education recognize that teachers need relevant, research-based professional development if they are to reach today's generation and will continue to provide training statewide.

"Now more than ever, the WVDE will focus on supporting high quality professional development for teachers and student assessments that align with real-world learning," Paine said.reases the expectations of what a student should know and be able to do upon graduation from high school. At the core of the plan are teachers who are eager to bring 21st century learning to their classrooms. The Department of Education and the West Virginia Board of Education recognize that teachers need relevant, research-based professional development if they are to reach today's generation and will continue to provide training statewide. "Now more than ever, the WVDE will focus on supporting high quality professional development for teachers and student assessments that align with real-world learning," Paine said.

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