The Final Four of Education
by Priscilla Haden

April 05, 2005

As I watched the West Virginia University menís basketball team compete for a slot in the Final Four, I was overwhelmed with pride. West Virginia truly has come a long way. Not only in basketball but in countless other ways including education.  

The state has made countless strides to better our teaching and our learning. One way we improved student achievement is through technology. Last month I published an article aligning the West Virginia Board of Education (WVBOE) goals with those of the new Governor.  

Not surprisingly, we are on the same beat. Both the Governor and Board recognize the importance of early childhood education, increasing student achievement, building educational leadership and utilizing technology. Recently, technology has gotten a lot of attention and rightfully so.  

The Board has recognized the importance of technology for years and we are excited that this Governor also understands the vital role that technology plays in educating our students.  

Truth be told, I remember a time when technology in the classroom meant you had a calculator and an over-head projector. Now technology means laptops, wireless Internet and online learning.  

Ready or not, the world is different. Kids are different. Learning is different. Americaís students need the knowledge and competence to compete in an increasingly technology-driven world. West Virginia is providing that knowledge through programs like Basic Skills/Computer Education, SUCCESS and WVLearns.  

Basic Skills/Computer Education provides students a solid foundation in the basic skills of reading, composition, math and computer literacy. West Virginia Story, a study of the achievement gains from comprehensive instructional technology programs, found, among other things, that Basic Skills/Computer Education helps the most needy children improve their achievement.  

SUCCESS (Student Utilization of Computers in Curriculum for the Enhancement of Scholastic Skills) prepares students for life during and after high school. This technology initiative not only provides productivity computer skills to our students, but also enhances critical thinking and decision-making skills.  

Another three-point shot in the technology arena is West Virginiaís E-Learning Platform, called WVLearns. WVLearns allows schools to provide Virtual School courses, giving students more course offerings at a time when there are teacher shortages in critical areas. WVLearns also utilizes SAS inSchool, which creates web-based teaching learning curricula focusing on the core subjects taught in grades eight through 12, including English, social studies, science, mathematics and Spanish, a reality for West Virginia students. Last, but not least, WVLearns supports Reinventing Education, a partnership with IBM to develop technology solutions designed to help support school reform efforts and raise student achievement.  

Our state technology programs continue to gain national attention but we canít stop now. We must look to the future and analyze and enhance our technology programs. This is an exciting, creative and transforming era for students, teachers, parents and lawmakers. In his State of the State, Governor Manchin said, ďA childís geographic location, race or parentís income level should not predetermine their lifeís course and itís up to us to see that they donít.Ē As a Board member, I look forward to partnering with the First Lady and the Legislature in building upon the past success of our stateís educational technology initiatives. It is obvious to me that our state is already on the right path. We are on our way to the Education Final Four. And again, I am overwhelmed with pride.  


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