Board of Education Takes Steps to Aid McDowell Co. Students

December 15, 2011

CHARLESTON, W.Va.The West Virginia Board of Education on Thursday endorsed a Covenant of Commitment to expand opportunities for McDowell County children.

With its endorsement, the board joined The McDowell County Partnership, whose mission is to enhance the achievement and well-being of all McDowell County public school students and their families. Partners also include local and national businesses, state and federal legislative offices, teacher organizations, faith-based organizations, parent organizations and others. 

The Covenant of Commitment calls for a well-rounded curriculum based on high standards, as well as the support and enrichment services students need to prepare for success in the 21st century knowledge economy.

“We all have a responsibility in developing ‘good kids who do great work,’” said state Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple.  “Garnering resources from government, business, education and the community to support the students of McDowell County is an important and powerful step in preparing our kids to be college and career ready.”

The West Virginia Board of Education intervened in McDowell County in 2001 after a review by the Office of Education Performance Audits found low test scores, shoddy school buildings and large numbers of uncertified teachers. The board declared a state of emergency and immediately restricted the authority of the local board in the expenditure of funds, the employment and dismissal of personnel, the establishment and operation of the school calendar, and the establishment of instructional practices and rules.  

Under state guidance, McDowell County has made major changes in curriculum, finances and personnel, including offering intensive professional development to further enhance student performance. The county also has built or renovated many of its facilities, including a new River View High School, which consolidated Iaeger and Big Creek high schools when it opened last year.

Still, challenges remain in McDowell County, where many students and their parents often face poverty, economic decline, drug and alcohol abuse, housing shortages, limited medical services and inadequate access to technology and transportation.

“We join with the Partnership in our refusal to see those challenges as reasons not to achieve,” Marple said. “We view them as opportunities for each of us to bring our particular expertise and capabilities to bear through mutually reinforcing activities that create change.”

For more information, contact the Office of Communications at 304-558-2699.