Main Content
What are learning standards?

Learning standards help teachers ensure their students have the skills and knowledge they need to be successful by providing clear goals for student learning.

Why do we need learning standards?

We need standards to ensure that all students, no matter where they live, are prepared for success in postsecondary education and the workforce. Common standards will help ensure that students are receiving a high quality education consistently, from school to school and state to state. Common standards will provide a greater opportunity to share experiences and best practices within and across states that will improve our ability to best serve the needs of students.

Standards do not tell teachers how to teach, but they do help teachers figure out the knowledge and skills their students should have so that teachers can build the best lessons and environments for their classrooms. Standards also help students and parents by setting clear and realistic goals for success. Standards are a first step "a key building block" in providing our young people with a high-quality education that will prepare them for success in college and work. Of course, standards are not the only thing that is needed for our children's success, but they provide an accessible roadmap for our teachers, parents, and students.

What process has the WVDE traditionally used to determine content standards?

Today, each state has its own process for developing, adopting and implementing standards. As a result, what students are expected to learn can vary widely from state to state.

Is having common standards the first step toward nationalizing education?

No. Common Core Standards are a state-led effort to give all students the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. The federal government has not been involved in the development of the standards. While West Virginia has chosen to adopt these standards, it has also customized the content specifically for our students.

West Virginia's Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives were developed by nearly 100 West Virginia teachers.

Why are the West Virginia Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives important?

We want to make sure that every child across the state is given the tools they need to succeed. High standards that are consistent across states provide teachers, parents and students with a set of clear expectations that everyone can work toward together. This will ensure that we maintain America's competitive edge, so that all of our students are well prepared with the skills and knowledge necessary to compete with not only their peers here at home, but with students from around the world.

These standards are a common sense first step toward ensuring our children are getting the best possible education no matter where they live.

Who is leading the West Virginia Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives initiative?

Parents, teachers, school administrators and experts together with state leaders, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) are leading the effort to develop a common core of state standards.

How will West Virginia implement the Next Generation Standards?

The West Virginia Board of Education approved the following implementation schedule for the ELA and Mathematics Next Generation Standards:

  • Fall 2011: Kindergarten
  • Fall 2012: First Grade
  • Fall 2013: Second Grade
  • Fall 2014: Grades 3-12

In order to provide all students and teachers access to the curriculum two years prior to administration of the West Virginia Next Generation Assessment aligned with the West Virginia Next Generation Standards, the West Virginia Department of Education has developed the following professional development schedule:

Summer, 2011-12Kindergarten
Summer, 2012-13First, Fourth, Fifth, and Ninth Grade
Summer, 2013-14Second, Third, Sixth, Seventh, and Tenth Grade
Summer, 2014-15Eighth, Eleventh, Twelfth Grade
What is the effective date for the Social Studies Next Generation CSOs?

July 1, 2012

Will the state standards keep local teachers from deciding what or how to teach?

No. The Next Generation Standards are a clear set of shared goals and expectations for what knowledge and skills will help our students succeed. Local teachers, principals, superintendents and others will decide how the standards are to be met. Teachers will continue to devise lesson plans and tailor instruction to the individual needs of the students in their classrooms. Local teachers, principals, superintendents, and school boards will continue to make decisions about curriculum and how their school systems are operated.

Were teachers involved in the creation of the standards?

Yes. Teachers have been a critical voice in the development of the standards.

Does having common standards lead to dumbing down the standards across the board?

Not at all. The common core standards have been built from the best and highest state standards in the country. They are evidence-based, aligned with college and work expectations, include rigorous content and skills, and are informed by other top performing countries. They were developed in consultation with teachers and parents from across the country so they are also realistic and practical for the classroom. Far from looking for the "lowest common denominator," these standards are designed to ensure that all students, regardless of where they live, are learning what they need to know to graduate from high school ready for college or a career.

Will more standards mean more tests?

No. For states that choose to adopt these common standards, having one set of standards will make it easier for states to pool information and resources to develop a shared set of high-quality tests to better evaluate student progress. The goal is not to have more tests, but to have smarter and better tests that help students, parents, and teachers.

What grade levels will be included in the Next Generation Standards?

The Next Generation Standards are currently available for K-12 English language arts and mathematics. Educator groups representing the science, social studies and arts are in the process of authoring Common State Standards for those content areas. West Virginia educators are engaged in this work.

Will a next generation assessment be developed?

West Virginia is a governing state within SMARTER Balanced, a multi-state assessment consortium, awarded a USED grant to design a next generation assessment aligned with the Common Core State Standards for English language arts and mathematics. The first administration of this assessment will occur in the spring of the 2014-2015 school year.

Instructional materials and curricula are key components to making standards usable and real in the classroom. Will the WVDE be creating common instructional materials and curricula?

In September 2011 the WVDE convened a group of teachers representing English language arts and mathematics, grades K-12. These teachers conducted an alignment study of the Next Generation Standards and the currently adopted instructional materials in both content areas. Where they identify gaps in the instructional materials, the WVDE will contract with classroom teachers across the state to create instructional materials on those topics, concepts and skills. These instructional resources will be posted to the Teach21 site for easy access by all teachers.

What is the role of the federal government in standards implementation?

The federal government has had no role in the development of the common core state standards and will not have a role in their implementation.