The State Superintendent delivered the annual address during a joint session of the West Virginia Education 2000 Workshops and the 25th Technical and Adult Education Conference, which are being held this week in Charleston.
“Education in West Virginia has been successful because of the hard work of teachers, principals, central office staff, service personnel, parents, students,community members and our Department of Education staff,” Dr. Stewart explained to an audience of over 2,000 educators, community leaders, government officials and business leaders. “The entire educational team should be extremely proud of past accomplishments, but we should not lose sight that we must strive for continued, sustainable progress.”
During his address, Dr. Stewart discussed recent initiatives, including Project MERIT (Mathematics Education Reform Initiative for Teachers), a program to improve mathematics teaching in the middle schools; WV IMPACT (Implementing Model Practices to Assure Competent Teachers), a teacher quality enhancement program; Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers to Use Technology, a comprehensive project to help teachers, teacher education students and college instructors utilize technology in teacher education programs; and Virtual School, a new initiative to use the Internet to provide additional course offerings to West Virginia students.
“As you can see, West Virginia education is not remaining constant –- we’re looking for new and better ways of providing a quality education to students in the Mountain State,” Dr. Stewart said. “West Virginia is at the forefront in numerous areas, including professional development for educators and educational technology.”
Dr. Stewart pointed to results from the Stanford Achievement Test - Ninth Edition (SAT-9) as one measurement showing that the state has made educational progress.
“Over the past four years, scores have improved at every grade level on the SAT-9,” he noted. “Other measurements of educational progress, including the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP), have also indicated that West Virginia’s students have made tremendous strides and are competitive with students across the country.”
Dr. Stewart also discussed upcoming Education Summits, community meetings which will be hosted by the West Virginia Board of Education in eight communities throughout the state this fall; the need for a greater emphasis on pre-school programs for three and four year olds; the importance of arts education for the state’s students; the increased use of the Internet to communicate with educators, parents, students and the public; innovative ways to encourage parental involvement; and a growing teacher shortage in West Virginia and the need to “pay teachers what they’re worth.”