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West Virginia Board of Education Helps Students Prepare for the 21st Century World of Work

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April 13, 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Today’s West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) meeting included several actions which will help arm students with career-ready technology skills.

The WVBE unanimously approved to repeal and replace Policy 2510, Assuring the Quality of Education: Regulations for Education Programs during its monthly meeting in Charleston. The policy incorporates three current policies (2442.3, Maximum Teacher-Pupil Ratio, Grades K-6, 2450, Distance Learning and the WV Virtual School, and 2515, Uniform Grading) to provide additional flexibility to districts concerning the number of instructional minutes required for high school credit-bearing courses and inclusion of course requirements across content areas.

Under the new policy, all public high schools and Career and Technical Centers must offer a computer science course beginning in the 2016-2017 school year.

“In order to ensure our students are prepared for the 21st century world of work, we must focus on ensuring our students master the technology skills needed in today’s competitive academic and professional marketplace,” said West Virginia Board of Education President Mike Green. “The jobs of the future will require critical thinking skills, particularly in the areas of math and science, and courses such as computer science can benefit all students regardless of what field they ultimately pursue.”

Additionally, the WVBE viewed a technology showcase video on the new Microsoft Imagine Academy. The video served as an update to the program which rolled out in 2014 in all high schools and Career and Technical Centers. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin was instrumental in allocating funding for the program which enables students across West Virginia to graduate with informational technology (IT) certifications. By participating in the program, schools provide training on fundamental technology skills and offer technical courses which enable students to graduate with industry-recognized credentials.

Through the Microsoft Imagine Academy, educators and students in schools across West Virginia have access to recently released, industry relevant, exploratory Computer Science and programming curriculum to introduce computer science concepts and practical applications for K-12 students. Courses include hands-on coding experiences with Minecraft as well as learning introductory computer science skills via the popular Creative Coding through Games & Apps (CCGA) programming course. This year, West Virginia teachers across the state have participated in CCGA computer science professional development training sessions to build skills for delivering the classroom curriculum and to be STEM leaders for peers. In addition, through the Microsoft Imagine Academy, high school students have the opportunity to validate their technical skills and knowledge for the workforce and earn a globally recognized industry certification credential respected by employers.

“Investments in computer science education sustain American innovation,” said Fred Humphries, Microsoft Corporate Vice President for U.S. Government Affairs. “West Virginia has demonstrated leadership by making computer science courses count toward high school graduation and is now going beyond this effort to require computer science to be taught in every high school in the state. We applaud their leadership on this important issue.”

According to the U.S. Bureau for Labor Statistics, more than 50 percent of today’s jobs require some degree of technology skills, and experts say that percentage will increase to 77 percent in the next decade. The gap between the demand for IT professionals and supply of qualified employees with the right technical skills is predicted to be as high as 40 percent over the next five to 10 years.

For more information, contact the West Virginia Department of Education Office of Communications at 304-558-2699.

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