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WV Academic Spotlight

A Community Evaluation of Our Standards

Academic Spotlight Project

What has been the attendance of other town hall meetings?

A total of approximately 300 individuals attended one of the eight regional town hall meetings that were held throughout the month of September.

How can people make truly informed decisions when they/we are hearing from only proponents?

The purpose of the town hall meetings was to give local communities the opportunity to hear about the standards and other education related issues from their local teachers and administrators. A fair review of all opinions expressed by panelists during the eight town hall meetings demonstrates that panelists offered numerous opinions on many areas in education that could be improved.

What is the participation rate of the citizen review portal, and what conclusions are we drawing from this?

From July 8 until September 30, 2015, teachers, parents, education administrators, members of the higher education community, members of the business community, elected officials and all other members of the public had the opportunity to review the standards and provide constructive feedback on how the standards could be improved.

A total of 5,277 individuals provided actual feedback. Consequently, the 1,331 individuals that did not provide feedback on any standard were removed from the sample size. The final sample for this project included 5,277 respondents. The demographic information of such participants breaks down as follows:

Residency Statistics
Primary Count Percentage
WV Resident 5252 99.53%
Nonresident 25 0.47%

Group Statistics
Primary Count Percentage
Teacher 4444 84.21%
Parent/Guardian 270 5.12%
Administrator 242 4.59%
Other 242 4.59%
Retired Educator 67 1.27%
Elected Official 11 0.21%
Not Provided 1 0.02%

Sub Group Statistics
Primary Count Percentage
Public School 4677 88.63%
Not Provided 559 10.59%
Private School 22 0.42%
Local/State Official 11 0.21%
Home School 8 0.15%

Specification Statistics
Primary Count Percentage
Elementary School 2214 41.96%
Middle/Intermediate School 1004 19.03%
High School 949 17.98%
Not Provided 544 10.31%
Early Childhood 188 3.56%
My children attend public school 176 3.34%
Community Member 99 1.88%
Post-Secondary 37 0.70%
Business or Industry Representative 15 0.28%
My children are not yet in school 13 0.25%
My children attend private school 10 0.19%
My children have completed all schooling 7 0.13%
Media 6 0.11%
My children are home schooled 5 0.09%
My children attend a post secondary institution 4 0.08%
School Board Member 4 0.08%
Other 2 0.04%

Why are you asking for feedback on the standards to "tweak" them, and holding these town hall meetings, only now, after the standards have already been implemented?

Every set of standards we currently have was on a public comment period for 30 days, as is required by state law. All West Virginians had the opportunity to review and comment on the standards at that time. However, since the standards and objectives have drawn much concern from the general public what better way to ease concern than to allow West Virginians to review them again and give feedback.

When and how were we as teachers told about this Academic Spotlight?

County superintendents were charged with disseminating information concerning Academic Spotlight throughout their districts.

A recent MetroNews poll revealed that 65% of West Virginians who have heard of Common Core have a very negative or somewhat negative impression of the standards. In light of this widespread concern, wouldn't it be better to develop standards that the majority of West Virginians can support?

The very reason the WVBE and WVDE initiated the Academic Spotlight project was to gain input on West Virginia's academic standards. The ultimate goal of this project is to take all input received during the course of the project and use it to adopt a set of standards that everyone can support — because they will be based on the work on thousands of West Virginians.

General Next Generation Questions

What is a Standard?

It is a level of quality or achievement. A standard is a goal for what we want students to know, understand and be able to do.

What are the Common Core State Standards?

State education chiefs and governors in 48 states came together to develop the Common Core, a set of clear college- and career-ready standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts/literacy and mathematics.

What is curriculum?

The curriculum is the intentional learning plan to ensure students achieve the goals of the standards; the curriculum represents the learning experience.

Why do you think that so many people of all beliefs have so much concern over Common Core?

People are concerned because they want West Virginia students to receive a high-quality education, and there is a lot of confusion surrounding "common core." The Common Core State Standards, which West Virginia used as a basis for developing the Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives, are simply the goals for students to achieve at the end of each school year. There are many misunderstandings about the standards' development/origin, implementation, and ties to assessment and classroom practice. The standards have always been available to the public. It is essential that people familiarize themselves with these standards when discussing their strengths and limitations.

What percentage of WV teachers are using the Next Generation standards to guide their teaching?

As of 2014, 100% of WV teachers use the Next Generation standards. A staggered implementation for the lower grades began in 2011, although some counties chose to do a full implementation early.

Is there any place to comment in general?

The WV Academic Spotlight website is available until September 30, 2015. The purpose of this website is to receive actionable feedback on specific standards in ELA and Mathematics. Additional comments may be submitted to wvacademicspotlight@wvde.state.us.

Why has West Virginia taken the stance to not allow parents to opt out of Common Core State Standards?

The Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives, West Virginia's adaptation of the Common Core State Standards, are goals for our students to reach by the end of the school year. The goals are set and approved by the West Virginia Board of Education and filed with the Secretary of State's office. Each grade in West Virginia has a set of goals for students. This makes it possible for parents, students and teachers to evaluate whether students are reaching their goals and to help those students who have not yet met those goals. [For information on the assessments, please see the Assessment Questions section below].

There are complaints about government overreach and concern about confidentiality issues for student information. How do you address these concerns?

West Virginia received no federal funds to adopt these standards. The federal government was not involved in either WV's adoption or adaptation of the Common Core State Standards. We have had no confidentiality issues regarding student data because of safeguards, procedures and policies that are in place to protect sensitive information.

In West Virginia, protecting the privacy of student data is a very serious matter. In addition to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) - the federal law that all State Education Agencies, districts, and schools must follow - West Virginia has three other formal layers of protection for students including the Student DATA Act, W. Va. Code §18-2-5h). Important information about protecting student information is available at http://wvde.state.wv.us/zoomwv/data-privacy.html.

Could you speak more to the career-ready aspect of the Common Core State Standards?

West Virginia teachers have adjusted and aligned the Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives to be developmentally appropriate for students at each grade level. The learning progressions and the materials teachers choose for the classroom are used as building blocks from one grade to the next. This provides all students the skills they need to be successful in college and/or careers.

If the standards leave, what then? What about textbooks? If educators and businesses set the goals and no one accepts that, who should do it?

If new standards have to be developed, new instructional materials (textbooks) would have to be reviewed and adopted for English language arts and mathematics, which could be costly to school districts. New instructional resources on WVDE's website (WV TREE and Teach 21) would have to be revised and/or replaced. Teachers and administrators would have to be trained to understand and implement any new standards.

In addition, the entire statewide assessment program would need to be re-developed. The assessment program is used to determine student progress, college and career readiness, and is a factor used in school accreditation. The state assessment must be aligned to state standards and must pass federal peer review for continued federal funding. Redeveloping the assessment program requires proposals, a bidding process, and a new alignment study, all of which will be time-consuming and costly.

Are teachers forced to teach in a certain way?

No. The standards do not dictate how teachers should teach. Teachers have the same instructional control as before. Teachers still determine what kinds of instruction their students need, select instructional materials, plan lessons, develop assessments and determine how to pace instruction to guide each student's learning.

How successful has Next Gen been since its inception in West Virginia in 2011?

Implementation of the West Virginia Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives began in 2011 with elementary grade levels. On the statewide general summative assessment for the 2014-2015 school year, 3rd grade students exceeded projections in mathematics by 5% and in ELA by 8%. These students are the only ones who have been taught based on the Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives since the beginning of their education.

How do educators feel about the negative buzz around the standards? How does this affect morale in schools?

The vast majority of our educators are comfortable with the standards. They are simply the general goals for West Virginia students. Teachers continue to develop curricula and choose the materials they use in their classrooms. The negative comments can make teaching more difficult for our educators, especially since there are so many misconceptions about the standards.

Speak to the time and effort teachers have put into learning and teaching the standards.

Along with state-wide and RESA-based trainings, each county trained teachers in its own way. All teachers have put significant time and effort into learning and teaching the Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives.

How do the standards help children from lower demographic areas (with less parental involvement)?

Nationally, the Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives place West Virginia students on even ground with students from other states because they are developing the same or similar skills. The standards include a purposeful progression of skills. This progression develops a strong foundation upon which students build as they advance to higher grade levels. Teachers then modify how they teach and scaffold the materials they use based upon the needs of individual students.

The approach of having children come to conclusions and reason on their own is great, but what about the children who thrive more with repetition (such as some special populations)?

Teachers still have the authority and responsibility to meet the needs of the various learners in their classrooms by differentiating instruction in order to make the content more accessible to students of all ability levels.

Under the Common Core State Standards, there is more thought given to learning progressions between grade levels and toward college readiness. Do you agree or disagree?

Agree. The learning progressions provide scaffolding so that students establish foundational skills in the lower grade levels and build upon those skills with more complex expectations as they advance to higher grade levels. The progressions give meaning and purpose to what students are expected to know, understand and be able to do in any grade level because they will expand those skills when they go to the next grade level. These skills serve the students whether they choose to go college or go directly into a career.

Curriculum is driven by standards. How can you argue that curriculum is a separate issue?

The standards represent the goals for what we want students to know, understand and be able to do. The curriculum is the teacher-developed sequence of lessons, units, assessments, etc. that helps students reach those goals. Teachers will differentiate their instruction to meet the needs of the various learners in their classrooms. These are what make up the unique curriculum of each educator in the state of West Virginia.

Early education experts are critical of the early critical thinking not being possible due to the children not having a fully developed prefrontal cortex. Aren't we pushing these students too young?

While young children are more concrete, rather than abstract, thinkers, they are typically very capable of engaging in developmentally appropriate critical thinking experiences about the world around them. Encouraging young children to think about "how" and "why" expands their critical thinking skills and lays a foundation to help them become lifelong learners. Ensuring developmentally appropriate opportunities for children to think critically, solve problems, and collaborate with their peers helps build their confidence and their habits of mind.

Why the denial of objectives to call them standards/goals?

Historically the West Virginia Framework has always included broad standards and specific objectives. Most teachers refer to them as standards. In the end no matter what we call them they are what we want students to know, understand, and be able to do.

What do you have in place for students that fall behind?

As always, teachers have the responsibility to make their content accessible to students of all abilities and educational backgrounds. Teachers have the expertise to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of the unique learners in their classrooms so that students who fall behind receive support and students who are ahead are challenged further.

In 2013, 4th grade was ranked 42.2% proficient. In the same year on the NAEP test, they were only 28% proficient. Isn't this just another lowering of the bar? Our students are still struggling.

On NAEP 2013 Mathematics, 35 percent of West Virginia 4th grade public school students performed at or above proficient. In reading, 27 percent were at or above proficient. The West Virginia Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives are designed to raise the expectations for all student performance. With adequate support, we believe that all students can and should reach these expectations to be productive global citizens.

The common core standards are definitely for the prepared child but what will we do to make sure the protected child doesn't take a backseat?

As always, teachers have the responsibility to make their content accessible to students of all abilities and educational backgrounds. Teachers have the expertise to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of the unique learners in their classrooms so that students who fall behind receive support and students who are ahead are challenged further.

Please explain how the old route of memorization does not work for problem solving.

The answers for some questions - or problems (be they in math, science, ELA, social studies or other content areas) - can simply be memorized, such as:

  • What is the capital of West Virginia?
  • How much is 2 + 2?
  • How many ounces are in a cup of liquid?

However, the vast majority of questions/problems that students will face in life after high school are complex. These types of questions require individuals to take information from a variety of sources and synthesize the information into a solution/answer.

For example, you want to buy a new cell phone. You may have memorized all the features for the various phones you are considering. However, to make the best choice, you will need to compare the features of the phones to each other. You will have to make decisions between price and features, size and features, and a number of other things. All of these decisions require the ability to think critically. Critical thinking skills cannot be learned solely by memorization.

In math, number sense and memorization are tools needed to progress to higher levels of thinking. For example, problem solving requires the ability to create and transform algebraic expressions, as well as the ability to write and solve equations. A skilled problem solver evaluates the reasonableness of the solution and can justify conclusions and communicate them to others.

Concern has been expressed about the college readiness of high school graduates in math and English. Can you talk about how higher education faculty in these two disciplines were involved in the preparation of the common core standards?

Faculty from West Virginia institutions of higher education were actively involved in the evaluating the standards and the creation of the West Virginia Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives for Mathematics and ELA.

Can you expect full support when parents and citizens have had no input into development or implementation?

Input from stakeholders is always welcomed. All West Virginia Department of Education policies, including the Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives, are placed out on public comment for a minimum of 30 days. All comments are analyzed after the comment period and given full consideration prior to the final policy being presented to the West Virginia State Board of Ed for their approval.

Once content standards and objectives are approved and become policy, implementation takes place at the local level. The WV Department of Education has developed a web page providing a wealth of resources for all stakeholders, including parents. http://wvnextgen.org/

Are statistics available that demonstrate parent participation in their child's education via interaction with teachers?

No. For reasons of parental privacy the WVDE does not track or keep this kind of information. That is a local level decision.

Panelists are very positive about the standards, teacher training and curriculum development. So why is student achievement so low?

Implementation of the West Virginia Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives began in 2011 with K-2 elementary grade levels. On the statewide general summative assessment for the 2014-2015 school year, 3rd grade students exceeded projections in mathematics by 5% and in ELA by 8%. These students are the only ones who have been taught based on the Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives since the beginning of their education.

If those who disapprove of the standards succeed in getting them dropped what impact will that have on students and teachers in West Virginia?

Both federal and state law require that we have college and career ready standards. (W.V. Code §18-2-39(b): "Before the 2014-2015 school year, the state board, the Higher Education Policy Commission and the Council for Community and Technical College Education shall collaborate in formally adopting uniform and specific college-and career- readiness standards for English/language arts and math.") If the Next Generation Standards were repealed, with no replacement, West Virginia would have to develop and adopt new, college and career ready standards for ELA and math to fulfill both state and federal requirements.

Federal and state law also require that the statewide general summative assessment be properly aligned to the standards. (W.Va. Code §18-2-39(g)(2): The state board shall "align the comprehensive statewide student assessment for all grade levels in which the test is given with the college- and career-readiness standards adopted..."). To fulfill these mandates, the State Board of Education would have to conduct a study to ensure the statewide assessment is properly aligned with the new college and career ready standards.

Additionally, instructional materials and resources would have to be reviewed, revised and possibly replaced to ensure such materials and resources align with the new standards. To ensure that teachers are effectively teaching the new standards, teachers and administrators may have to be trained to fully understand and implement the new standards.

To what extent are concerns over the standards a problem with perfecting a curriculum and methods to teach them rather than the standards themselves?

As new standards are introduced, teachers are challenged to design grade-appropriate curricula and methods that address the standards and meet the unique learning needs of their students. As teachers present these lessons, the opportunity to reflect on the effectiveness of these instructional strategies and activities allow teachers to modify and perfect their instructional plans.

In the business world standards are updated all of the time; with Next Generation Standards being 80% of what the old standards had been why the stress by teachers on standards changes?

Eighty percent of the 21st Century Content Standards and Objectives (old standards) are found in the Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives overall. While many of the same pieces are there, they have been organized in a way that creates meaningful learning progressions and requires students to develop and build upon skills as they progress to higher grade levels. This attention to sequencing was not part of the 21st Century Content Standards and Objectives, and it is what sets the Next Generation Content Standards apart from them.

What is the assurance for college teachers that these standards truly represent college readiness?

W.V. Code §18-2-39(b) required the higher education community to be a part of the development of the standards: "Before the 2014-2015 school year, the state board, the Higher Education Policy Commission and the Council for Community and Technical College Education shall collaborate in formally adopting uniform and specific college-and career- readiness standards for English/language arts and math."

When teaching across the curriculum, how do you pick the standard? (Ex. Band is 9th-12th, so do I have to pick that age group of standards or pick the one we feel is best?)

Teaching across the curriculum is an increasingly popular way of instructing students because it covers a variety of subjects in one lesson - which is why it is especially important in the career planning field as well. Let's say you have a high school student who isn't quite sure what he or she wants to do for a career. Teaching across the curriculum involves all subjects in one main lesson topic and can really help with that high school student when he or she is planning a career for the future.

When an instructor teaches across the curriculum, he or she incorporates all subjects into a lesson plan. That means that one lesson includes instruction in art, science, reading, math, English, and social studies. Teaching across the curriculum allows a student to be introduced to various ways of incorporating learning into life and that includes career planning.

Ultimately in standards based instruction students must have the opportunity to master the required content standards and objectives for the course they are receiving credit for.

What would be the next step if we decided again Common Core standards?

Both federal and state law require that we have college and career ready standards. (W.V. Code §18-2-39(b): "Before the 2014-2015 school year, the state board, the Higher Education Policy Commission and the Council for Community and Technical College Education shall collaborate in formally adopting uniform and specific college-and career- readiness standards for English/language arts and math.") If the Next Generation Standards were repealed, with no replacement, West Virginia would have to develop and adopt new, college and career ready standards for ELA and math to fulfill both state and federal requirements.

Federal and state law also require that the statewide general summative assessment be properly aligned to the standards. (W.Va. Code §18-2-39(g)(2): The state board shall "align the comprehensive statewide student assessment for all grade levels in which the test is given with the college- and career-readiness standards adopted..."). To fulfill these mandates, the State Board of Education would have to conduct a study to ensure the statewide assessment is properly aligned with the new college and career ready standards.

Additionally, instructional materials and resources would have to be reviewed, revised and possibly replaced to ensure such materials and resources align with the new standards. To ensure that teachers are effectively teaching the new standards, teachers and administrators may have to be trained to fully understand and implement the new standards.

What does the research say about how effective the Common Core standards are?

The research that served as the basis for development of the English language arts standards (in Common Core) can be found here http://www.corestandards.org/assets/Appendix_A.pdf. The research that served as the basis for development of the mathematics standards (in Common Core) can be found here http://www.corestandards.org/wp-content/uploads/Math_Standards.pdf. A compendium of research on the Common Core State Standards can be found here http://www.cep-dc.org/displayDocument.cfm?DocumentID=438.

Are students demonstrating success after having been taught by the standards?

Implementation of the West Virginia Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives began in 2011 with elementary grade levels. On the statewide general summative assessment for the 2014-2015 school year, 3rd grade students exceeded projections in mathematics by 5% and in ELA by 8%. These students are the only ones who have been taught based on the Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives since the beginning of their education.

How are the standards involved in classes?

The standards represents the goals for what we want students to know, understand and be able to do. Teachers develop their own curricula to help students achieve these goals.

What is the difference between the old content standards and Common Core standards?

Overall, 80% of the skills and expectations found in the old standards can be found in the Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives; it is important to remember, though, that the 80% takes all grade levels into account comprehensively. This means that while many of the same content remains, it has been shifted and reorganized in a way that is developmentally appropriate. Learning progressions have been built into the new standards that help students establish and further develop skills as they advance to higher grade levels.

How are the Next Generation standards being incorporated into AP classes?

The academic content addressed through the Next Generation Standards prepares students for success in AP classes.

Do you think raising the bar is setting up children to fail?

Our goal is to prepare students to be competitive in a global economy. Unless the bar is raised, our students may not have the skills to be successful. Fear of failure cannot be a reason to have or maintain low expectations. Given proper support, students will be able to meet the high expectations that have been set for them.

How are the standards used to ensure that every student is successful?

As always, teachers have the responsibility to make their content accessible to students of all abilities and educational backgrounds. Teachers have the expertise to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of the unique learners in their classrooms so that students who fall behind receive support and students who are ahead are challenged further.

Why is the Common Core so controversial?

People are concerned because they want West Virginia students to receive a high-quality education, and there is a lot of confusion surrounding "common core." The Common Core State Standards, which West Virginia used as a basis for developing the Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives, are the goals for student to achieve at the end of each school year. There are many misunderstandings about the standards' development/origin, implementation, and ties to assessment and classroom practice. The standards have always been available to the public. It is essential that people familiarize themselves with these standards when discussing their strengths and limitations.

Next Gen is said to increase rigor, yet my enrichment student was essentially held back for 2 years because Common Core discourages advancement. How do you justify this to me as a parent?

The West Virginia Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives do not discourage advancement. These standards do, however, set higher expectations than before for our students. The previous standards did not adequately address the demands of college and careers. Given proper support from teachers, parents and their schools, students will be able to meet the high expectations that have been set for them.

The decision to accelerate a student is a local decision. With the implementation of these standards, districts were provided an opportunity to systematically consider the full range of issues related to accelerating students and make their decisions accordingly.

I've been told that we use Common Core because that's how it is in the real world. Students teach themselves. Is this coming from the curriculum or the teacher?

Students do not teach themselves, but they are strongly encouraged to take an active part in their own learning. The West Virginia Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives reflect, at each grade level, what students should know and be able to do to be successful in careers or in college. Since students learn best when they are able to apply concepts to the real world, the West Virginia Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives incorporate the concepts of hands-on experiences and real world application of information. Teachers and school principals set the curriculum (course of study) based on the overall guidelines of the standards.

How do you respond to the statement that standards are "copyrighted" and therefore cannot be changed?

The Common Core State Standards are protected by copyright. It is important to note, however, that West Virginia has not adopted the Common Core State Standards in whole. Rather, our Next Generation Content Standards are aligned to the common core. This alignment is legally permissible per a public license granted by the NGA Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers which provides that uses of the Common core State Standards "...may involve the Common Core State Standards as a whole or selected excerpts or portions." States are free to use any or all of the Common Core State Standards as they desire.

When using the standards, how do you get through all of them in one year?

Teachers have the ability to plan lessons and units that target multiple content standards and objectives at the same time. Through careful and intentional planning, teachers have enough time to address all of the content standards and objectives for which they are responsible.

How do we "standardize" students whose needs may be different?

As always, teachers have the responsibility to make their content accessible to students of all abilities and educational backgrounds. Teachers have the expertise to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of the unique learners in their classrooms so that students who fall behind receive support and students who are ahead are challenged further.

What is the overall cost associated with deviation from our current standards?

The cost associated with deviation from the Next Generation standards depends on how significantly different newly adopted standards are from the Next Generation standards. Instructional materials would have to be reviewed for English language arts and math to ensure they are appropriate aligned to the new standards. New instructional resources on WVDE's website (WV TREE and Teach 21) must be revised. Teachers and administrators would have to be trained to understand and implement new standards.

How will the Common Core affect home schooling?

Families that elect to home school their children are permitted to use whichever curriculum they wish, whether that be a common core based curriculum or other curriculum.

Are there still honors classes for high school? My sister was told there are not.

The decision to offer honors courses in high school is made at the school or county level.

What concrete differences have occurred in the changes of standards (from 21st Century to Next Gen)? What challenges still exist?

The standards now include built-in learning progressions that ensure the content is organized and delivered when it is developmentally appropriate. These learning progressions allow students to establish foundational skills and build upon those with more complex understandings as they advance to higher grade levels. The major challenge to current implementation of these standards centers on widespread misinformation about their content, purpose and origins. The standards can still be improved, however, which is why the Academic Spotlight project was initiated.

What would occur if the standards were removed? What's the plan, process, procedure that could occur?

The cost associated with deviation from the Next Generation standards depends on how significantly different newly adopted standards are from the Next Generation standards. Instructional materials would have to be reviewed for English language arts and math to ensure they are appropriate aligned to the new standards. New instructional resources on WVDE's website (WV TREE and Teach 21) must be revised. Teachers and administrators would have to be trained to understand and implement new standards. If new standards are adopted, WVDE will develop a plan to roll-out the new standards.

Next Generation Content Area Specific Questions

If a student wants to reach AP® Calculus by the first semester of his or her senior year, how would that student attain that goal? Is it possible? Is calculus available through all counties in West Virginia?

There are pathways that will lead students to advanced mathematics courses such as AP® Calculus in high school. Compressed and accelerated pathways can follow models such as:

  • Students may "double up" by enrolling in the Math II course during the same year as Math III or "doubling up" Math III STEM and Math IV;
  • Some very advanced students will be able to move from Math III STEM to Calculus.
  • Counties decide which elective course options are available to students, and Calculus is one of those options. AP® Calculus is available to all WV students through the West Virginia Virtual Schools.
  • Counties have the option to utilize the traditional pathway of Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, etc.

In the old standards, a full year was allotted solely to geometry and trigonometry. How can these new standards meet the same expectations in less time?

Students are still receiving the same exposure to the standards. Under the Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives for mathematics, courses integrate the topics of algebra, geometry, trigonometry, etc. Mathematical connections among these topics are developed in Math I, Math II, Math III, and Math IV. Counties have the option to address the same content in the traditional pathway of Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, etc.

What is the plan with high school science?

Beginning with the 2016-2017 school year, the high school plan for science is

  • 9th grade - Earth and Space Science
  • 10th grade - Biology
  • 11th grade - a third science from Policy 2520.3C
    • The recommended third science course for students pursuing a STEM field is chemistry, followed by a fourth science, physics. Students may include AP science courses as well.
    • The third science course recommended for non-STEM students is physical science. This sequence provides students with a good foundation in the three major strands of science.

Students who wish to take more than three science courses may choose from a variety of offerings including chemistry, physics, environmental science, human anatomy and physiology, and forensics science.

Are the math standards sufficiently preparing students for their science classes?

Yes, beginning with 2016-2017 school year, the recommended high school science progression begins with Earth and Space Science. Middle school mathematics sufficiently prepares students for this course. High school mathematics courses are aligned to the expectations of high school science courses.

What is the alignment with the math standards and the Next Generation science standards? Will students have the foundational math at the appropriate time to take chemistry and physics? At what expected year in high school? Is this adequate for a student wanting to attend a selective four-year institution?

Yes. Under the integrated pathway, the foundations for chemistry and physics are in Math I and Math II; under the traditional pathway, these foundations are in Algebra I and Geometry.

These courses will adequately prepare a student wanting to attend a selective four-year institution. Higher Education has been involved throughout the science standards writing process; the math and science objectives have been vetted and determined to prepare students for College- and Career-Readiness.

With the added push for ELA and math, what happens to science, history, art, music, gym?

Though the switch to our Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives started with mathematics and English language arts, the other content areas have not been forgotten. Literacy standards were included for history and science. In addition, West Virginia developed and adopted Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives in social studies, health and wellness. Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives for science will become effective during the 2016-2017 school year, and the arts are forthcoming. For more information on the standards for various content areas please visit the following WVDE websites: Office of Early Learning and Office of Middle/Secondary Learning.

Please elaborate on the way the common core state standards can support music and arts integration into general curriculum.

When teachers in the various content areas collaborate, particularly on projects, they can easily integrate the arts into the general curriculum. The English language arts and social studies standards encourage students to explore a wide variety of artistic mediums including drama, film, visual arts, and multi-media presentations. Mathematics, science and physical education standards also can be applied to dance (motion, physics), music (scales, composing), art and color theory, architecture (measurement, composition of building materials), crafts (such as wood or metal-working), photography, video and film.

How does this affect history or social studies education?

History or social studies education is affected in similar ways. Collaboration among English language arts, mathematics, science and arts teachers on particular social studies topics/projects is an excellent way to show the connections among the content areas. In particular, the English language arts and the literacy standards encourage students to explore personal essays, speeches, biographies, memoirs, journalism, and historical or economic accounts, all of which are relevant to social studies.

Issues in math are easy to review by subject but when it's Math I it is harder for parents to research to help kids with homework.

The topics addressed in Math I and those addressed in Algebra I are very similar. In both courses, primary focus is placed on linear and exponential functions. Algebra I then addresses quadratic functions, while Math I develops connections between algebra and geometry. For additional help the WVDE is partnered with WVU to provide online lessons and resources for teachers, parents and students addressing Math I, II and III. http://nextgen.wvnet.edu/Courses/

How do you get students to problem-solve in content areas other than math and science?

The expression "problem solving" may lead most people to think of math or science problems, but problem solving, as it is used in education, is the ability to reason and think critically to resolve a problem, issue or dilemma. Solving problems is a universal skill. We solve problems in all areas of our lives, every day.

By learning how to read and analyze texts, by working on projects and performance tasks, by participating in research tasks and classroom discussions in all content areas, particularly when teachers include real-world issues in their curriculum, students develop their ability to reason and to think critically.

How can you condense 5 years of math ("old way") into 3 years and suggest that you can possibly slow down and reteach students who are behind and still cover all that is required?

Students are still required to have four credits of mathematics for graduation. Math I, II and III contain the same content as Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II. This sequence of three courses will take students to the college- and career-ready level benchmarks.

Students will still need to choose a fourth mathematics course that aligns with their post-secondary education plans. Many students who choose to go into a STEM field may need to take additional courses such as trigonometry and calculus, which are still available to all students.

In ELA, students can now barely write and are very distracted in life so why the move away from classic literature and the great books?

Selection of instructional materials (including which texts to read) is a component of curriculum development. Teachers, administrators, and county boards of education determine which texts will be read by students in their English language arts classes. The Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives do not condone or suggest teachers move away from classic literature; in fact, the only texts/authors specifically mentioned are Shakespeare and influential historical documents from American history. The selection of instructional materials remains a local decision.

How does an 8th grader successfully navigate a year's worth of grade 8 Math standards and math I? You say this happens but to make that work, something has to be sacrificed. What?

There is a separate set of Content Standards and Objectives for Math I for Grade 8 that is distinct from high school Math I. The same is true for counties utilizing the Traditional Pathway. There is a course title Algebra I for Grade 8.

Students voluntarily choosing to earn high school credits in Grade 8 will be undertaking advanced work at an accelerated pace. Districts are encouraged to work with their mathematics leadership, teachers, and curriculum coordinators to design an accelerated pathway that best meet the needs of their students. For those students ready to move at a more accelerated pace, one recommended method is to compress the standards for any three consecutive grades and/or courses into an accelerated two-year pathway. Such a pathway could compress the CSOs from the Grade 7, Grade 8, and Mathematics I courses into an accelerated pathway for students in Grades 7 and 8.

How are the social sciences, art and physical education a focus?

Though the switch to our Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives started with mathematics and English language arts, the other content areas have not been forgotten. Literacy standards were included for history and science. In addition, West Virginia developed and adopted Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives in social studies, health and wellness. Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives for science will become effective during the 2016-2017 school year, and the arts are forthcoming. For more information on the standards for various content areas please visit the following websites: Office of Early Learning and Office of Middle/Secondary Learning.

I have heard that some counties, such as Kanawha County, are going back to the traditional math sequence - algebra, trig, etc. - instead of the integrated math. Is this accurate? If so, why?

Yes, counties have the option to choose one of two course pathways for high school mathematics. Counties can choose to offer the sequence of Math I, Math II, and Math III or the sequence of Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II. The mathematics standards and objectives identified in Math I, Math II and Math III are identical to the standards and objectives identified in Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II. The content is simply grouped differently among the three years. Counties determine how the high school standards will be organized into courses to provide a strong foundation for post-secondary success.

Having every child "pre-calculus" ready after year 3 is unrealistic. Failure rates are very high. Students are frustrated and they don't have options. Why can't we offer options for our students?

To ensure students are college and career ready at the end of high school, they are required to complete at least four credits of mathematics. Depending on what county the student is in, he or she will be required to complete either Math I, II and III or Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II. This sequence of three courses will take students to the college and career-ready level benchmarks.

After completing those course to prepare them for college and careers, students will have the option to select a fourth mathematics course that aligns with their post-secondary education plans. Many students who choose to go into a STEM field may need to take additional courses such as trigonometry and calculus, which are still available to all students.

With the Integrated Pathway, students do have the option of completing the content of Math III over two years with the Math III TR (Technical Readiness) and Math IV TR (Technical Readiness) courses. An additional option, Transition Mathematics for Seniors, prepares students to meet requirements to be identified as "college- and career-ready."

If math standards are so rigorous, why is calculus being dropped? It is a prerequisite for our military academies and many universities.

Calculus is NOT being dropped as an available course to WV students. However, depending on interest, counties decide whether or not to offer calculus. Even students in counties that elect not to offer calculus have the option of enrolling in AP® Calculus through the West Virginia Virtual Schools.

Are there Next Gen standards for other core subjects, or are any in the making?

Though the switch to our Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives started with mathematics and English language arts, the other content areas have not been forgotten. Literacy standards were included for history and science. In addition, West Virginia developed and adopted Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives in social studies, health and wellness. Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives for science will become effective during the 2016-2017 school year, and the arts are forthcoming. For more information on the standards for various content areas, please visit the following WVDE Websites: Office of Early Learning and Office of Middle/Secondary Learning.

At the high school level, how do you allow students to move ahead since they are not allowed to double up on Math 1 & 2?

While mathematics pathways follow state guidelines, specific pathway decisions are made at the county level. Counties have been encouraged to work with their mathematics leadership, teachers, and curriculum coordinators to design pathways that best meet the abilities and needs of their students.

For students who study the 8th grade CSOs in grade 8, pathways can be designed that will lead them to advanced mathematics courses in high school, such as Calculus. In high school, compressed and accelerated pathways may follow these models, among others:

  • Students could "double up" by enrolling in the Math II course during the same year as Math III or "doubling up" Math III STEM and Math IV;
  • Some very advanced students will be able to move from Math III STEM to Calculus.

Districts have been encouraged to work with their mathematics leadership, teachers, and curriculum coordinators to review the Math III STEM course to determine if they desire to add objectives from Math IV to the Math III STEM course to further ensure students success in Calculus.

How is the state department handling some counties returning to traditional math in high school vs. integrated math? What about transfer students?

As outlined in Policy 2510 Foundations for High Quality Adolescent Level Programming Guidance Document, counties have the option to choose one of two course sequence pathways for the mathematics progression in grades 9-11.

  • Option 1: The pathway known as the international or integrated course sequence of Math I, Math II and Math III. This is the pathway in the current Policy 2510.
  • Option 2: The pathway known as the traditional course sequence of Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II. (This sequence groups the set of Next Generation content standards and objectives into three courses with all of the algebra content contained in the Algebra I and Algebra II courses, the geometry content contained in a Geometry course, and the content for trigonometry and data and statistics integrated among the three courses.)

Points to consider when choosing a course sequence pathway:

  • The mathematics standards and objectives identified in Math I, Math II and Math III are identical to the standards and objectives identified in Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II. The content is simply grouped differently among the three years.
  • Regardless of the pathway chosen for grades 9-11, the fourth course options remain the same as described in Policy 2510 and 2520.2B.
  • Any county that chooses Option 2 must provide the WVBE assurance that students who have begun their high school course sequence in Option 1 shall be given the opportunity to complete that three-year sequence or provide WVBE with a detailed, written transition plan to ensure students will not be penalized for the change in the mathematics course sequence.
  • Students in counties choosing the traditional pathway of Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II would not have the option of enrolling in Math III TR/Math IV TR. The content of these courses is the content of Math III. In order to assure exposure to the content required in grades 9-11, students must remain one pathway or the other.

Common Core math - why change the way we multiply?

Multiplication is a mathematical operation. Multiplication has not changed. As can be seen in the mathematics standards, third grade students are required to know their multiplication tables through 10 x 10.

M.3.OA.7Fluently multiply and divide within 100, using strategies such as the relationship between multiplication and division (e.g., knowing that 8 x 5 = 40, one knows 40 ÷ 5 = 8) or properties of operations and by the end of Grade 3, know from memory all products of two one-digit numbers.

Students are also asked to internalize a mathematical understanding of multiplication. For example, 3 x 4 means that one has three groups of 4 objects and that three groups of four objects means that one has 12 objects.

Can 8th graders still carry over their honors math 7/8 (algebra/geometry) as a high school credit?

According to Policy 2510, honors math 7/8 (algebra/geometry) is not identified as a course earning high school credit. Middle school students successfully completing either 8th grade High School Math I or High School Algebra I for 8th Grade can earn high school mathematics credit.

Do you believe that all the teachers in the math department are qualified to teach the curriculum in Math I, II, and III? In the past, some math teachers were not strong in trigonometry, algebra 2 and pre-calculus.

In the past, a teacher's schedule may have promoted content specialization. At present, two pathways for mathematics are available at the high school level. One pathway consists of an integrated sequence of three courses, each of which includes number, algebra, geometry, probability and statistics. A second pathway consists of two algebra courses and a geometry course, with some data, probability and statistics included in each course. Both pathway options require teachers to make connections among the mathematical topics being addressed. Teachers are often asked to develop and teach new skills and understandings. A teacher asked to introduce a new technology will feel a little unsure. A teacher who has not taught a particular course for several years feel a little out of practice. A teacher certified in mathematics at the secondary level has demonstrated proficiency in the content of these classes. It is the educator's responsibility to maintain or acquire the necessary skills and understandings.

Are colleges able to translate Math 1-4 into their requisite courses?

Yes. The content of Math I, Math II, and Math III is identical to the content of Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II. The standards for Math IV are identical to the standards of Trigonometry/Pre-calculus.

Can you address the difference between STEM math and LA math, and how does this relate to being prepared for college math?

The completion of the content for either Math III STEM or Math III LA exposes students to the content deemed necessary to meet the minimum requirements for College- and Career-Readiness. While building on the content of the Math II course, these options for Math III offer more personalized learning pathways. Math III STEM includes all of the content of Math III LA, but goes beyond the minimum requirements of college and career readiness and provides students with the additional mathematics necessary for the pursuit of a field of study in a STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

Did you know that Math 1, 2, and 3 is required of every student to graduate, and that is the "old" algebra I, geometry, algebra II, trigonometry, all of probability and statistics and some of pre-calculus? Is that fair to career-ready students?

The completion of the content for Math I, Math II, and Math III exposes students to the content deemed necessary to meet the minimum requirements for College- and Career-Readiness. The Math I Lab course, offered in conjunction with the Math I course, reinforces the objectives of Math I in a supporting course that is responsive to students' individual academic needs through a data driven decision making process. Options for Math III include more personalized learning pathways. The mathematics content of Math III can be spread throughout two years of coursework in Math III TR and Math IV TR.

Is it true that grammar is no longer offered or taught, or do standards exist specifically to stress grammar?

Grammar instruction is still a pivotal component of English language arts. There are specific content standards and objectives that address conventions of Standard English and knowledge of language. Grammar is no longer treated as a separate content area; it is integrated in the English language arts content.

Do the Next Gen standards in math and ELA align with the 21st century standards that haven't been replaced? (i.e. science, history, music, art, etc.)

The Next Generation Standards do take into account other content areas in terms of related skills. For example math at a given grade takes into account what students need to know for science at the same grade. In addition, the Next Generation Standards address literacy in most content areas.

How can I, as a music teacher, assist in applying the Next Generation standards in my classroom as well as the 21st century music standards?

Identifying where each set of standards parallel and benefit each other (alignment), comprehensive knowledge and familiarity with the standards, ongoing dialogue and communication with the classroom teacher and stakeholders can make strong connections/applications and enrich student learning.

Why are there no Next Gen standards in science and social studies?

Though the switch to our Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives started with mathematics and English language arts, the other content areas have not been forgotten. Literacy standards were included for history and science. In addition, West Virginia developed and adopted Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives in social studies, health and wellness. Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives for science will become effective during the 2016-2017 school year, and the arts are forthcoming. For more information on the standards for various content areas please visit the following WVDE websites: Office of Early Learning and Office of Middle/Secondary Learning.

How do we improve understanding for our special education students with these more rigorous standards?

As always, teachers have the responsibility to make their content accessible to students of all abilities and educational backgrounds. Teachers have the expertise to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of the unique learners in their classrooms so that students who fall behind receive support and students who are ahead are challenged further.

Students with severe cognitive issues are taught using the West Virginia Extended Standards. These standards were developed specifically for this population.

Parents are voicing their concerns that they cannot help their elementary school-age children with their math homework. How can we help parents help their children?

Some schools offer parent nights to provide tutorials on the content their children are learning in school. Teachers welcome parental interest in their content areas; reach out to your student's teachers for support and/or information when you need it.

The WV Department of Education has numerous resources for parents to use. Parents 21 at http://wvde.state.wv.us/parents21/ provides a wealth of resources for parents to use with their children.

Teach 21 http://wvde.state.wv.us/teach21/ is another excellent resource which includes the following:

  • Instructional Materials Digital Stakeholders' Recommendations
  • Common Core Standards
  • Strategy Bank
  • Instructional Guides
  • Learning Skills
  • Technology Tools

The WV Parent Educator Resource Centers (PERCs) is another http://wvde.state.wv.us/osp/perc.html with additional resources for parents who wish to help their children at home.

The internet is full of examples of student homework in math that are questionable at best. How do you respond?

Using the internet wisely takes good judgement and the critical thinking skills that we are endeavoring to teach our students. Since anyone can post to the internet, it is important to consider the sources of the examples before using them. The best approach is for students to talk with their teachers about which sites are applicable to them and fit in with their classroom curriculum. The WVDE's website (WV TREE and Teach 21) has instructional resources that have been vetted by WV teachers.

Yes, we should be asking more of students, but what about the students who cannot meet those standards? Often times, a 10th grade ELA teacher will have several students on a 5th or 6th grade reading level. How are teachers supposed to accommodate these students who are behind while fulfilling the needs of on target students?

Meeting the needs of students who are in very different places academically has always been a major responsibility of teachers. Teachers are skilled at using scaffolding and providing accommodations to students who need them. The Campaign for grade level reading will be addressing this issues and assisting districts in meeting the needs of all students.

Why is cursive not important? How are children supposed to sign important documents?

In grades Kindergarten and first, WV Next Generation English Language Arts Content Standards and Objectives include explicitly stated requirements for handwriting. In grades second through fifth, there are no explicitly stated handwriting objectives, and this is certainly an area where the standards could be improved.

Please explain how the old route of memorization does not work for problem solving.

The answers for some questions - or problems (be they in math, science, ELA, social studies or other content areas) - can simply be memorized, such as:

  • What is the capital of West Virginia?
  • How much is 2 + 2?
  • How many ounces are in a cup of liquid?

However, the vast majority of questions/problems that students will face in life after high school are complex. These types of questions require individuals to take information from a variety of sources and synthesize the information into a solution/answer.

For example, you want to buy a new cell phone. You may have memorized all the features for the various phones you are considering. However, to make the best choice, you will need to compare the features of the phones to each other. You will have to make decisions between price and features, size and features, and a number of other things. All of these decisions require the ability to think critically. Critical thinking skills cannot be learned solely by memorization.

In math, number sense and memorization are tools needed to progress to higher levels of thinking. For example, problem solving requires the ability to create and transform algebraic expressions, as well as the ability to write and solve equations. A skilled problem solver evaluates the reasonableness of the solution and can justify conclusions and communicate them to others.

How do the standards align with No Child Left Behind and special education?

The West Virginia Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives meet the expectations of NCLB. The West Virginia Extended Standards align with special education.

If students can learn traditional math, why must other "new" methods be used?

Teachers use a variety of instructional strategies and methods to meet the learning needs of all students. Students in all mathematics courses are challenged to integrate and apply numerical fluency, procedural skills, and conceptual understanding to solve problems.

You toss around the concept that these standards are common - similar between states. However, as a high school counselor, I am on the front lines exchanging information about individual standards between states (when students transfer). Regularly, when students move out of WV, new schools call to have our math courses explained. They don't know where to place our students. How do you address this?

Unfortunately, this is not a new problem. Districts have always struggled with determining appropriate mathematics placements for transfer students because of the great variety in mathematics teaching and learning throughout the country - even when the course names are the same. This problem plagues all content areas because each state has a different set of graduation requirements.

However, the same mathematics standards are addressed in the integrated pathway (Math I, Math II, etc.) and the traditional pathway (Algebra I, Geometry, etc.). Topics that are a focus of Math I and those addressed in Algebra I have much in common. In both courses, primary focus is placed on linear and exponential functions. Algebra I then addresses quadratic functions, while Math I develops connections between algebra and geometry.

What standard promotes children not being able to write in cursive?

In grades Kindergarten and first, WV Next Generation English Language Arts Content Standards and Objectives include explicitly stated requirements for handwriting. In grades second through fifth, there are no explicitly stated handwriting objectives, and this is certainly an area where the standards could be improved.

How are Next Generation standards being incorporated into AP classes like AP language, AP US history and AP literature?

Teachers utilize the same content but implement a more rigorous curriculum to ensure students achieve and exceed those goals.

Are out of state colleges and WV higher ed institutions able to translate Math 1-4 into their requisite courses (i.e., Algebra I, Geometry, etc.)?

West Virginia institutes of higher education recognize students who successfully complete of Math I, Math II, and Math III (as well as students who successfully complete Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II) as successfully demonstrating college- and career-readiness. College admissions offices understand that course names are an approximation of what was taught in such course, and ask questions when they are unsure of the topics covered in a particular course.

Ritchie County and others have now eliminate calculus in favor of Math 1,2,3 - a requirement for many STEM programs - and is also switching Physics to online classes. With this being the case, doesn't this hurt college readiness?

Districts have the discretion of whether or not to offer Calculus as a course. WVDE encourages parents concerned about this issue to contact local administrators to see how such course offerings may be accomplished.

How does an 8th grader successfully navigate a year's worth of grade 8 math standards and Math I?

Counties, with representative stakeholders, including parents, middle and high school teachers, guidance counselors, and mathematics leaders, developed plans for acceleration that took into consideration the full range of issues related to accelerating high school mathematics courses at middle level grades. Students who have demonstrated the ability to meet the full expectations of the CSOs quickly should, of course, be encouraged to do so. There are a variety of ways and opportunities for students to advance to mathematics courses. Districts worked to design an accelerated pathway that would best meet the needs of their students. One recommended method is to compress the standards for any three consecutive grades and/or courses into an accelerated two-year pathway. For example, the CSOs from Grade 7, Grade 8, and Mathematics I courses could be compressed into an accelerated pathway for students in grades 7 and 8. Students who follow a compacted pathway will be undertaking advanced work at an accelerated pace. This creates a challenge for these students as well as their teachers, who will be teaching within a compressed timeframe 8th grade CSOs and Math I CSOs that are significantly more rigorous than in the past.

Why virtually eliminate chemistry when Maryland is increasing?

Chemistry has not been eliminated as a course offering. Prior to the adoption of Policy 2520.3C, chemistry was not required for college bound students; this has not changed. With the implementation of Policy 2520.3C, as now, chemistry and physics are recommended to students on a STEM path.

Additionally, part of Policy 2520.3C says that students will be advised and assisted in contacting the institutions of higher learning to which they are interested in applying to determine the admission requirements. Students should include those requirements as they prepare their Personalized Education Plans.

Chemistry has been virtually eliminated (unless you take the STEM path). Isn't this a disservice to students up against college-bound students from VA and MD who take chemistry as opposed to general science in grade 11?

Chemistry has not been eliminated as a course offering. Prior to the adoption of Policy 2520.3C, chemistry was not required for college bound students; this has not changed. With the implementation of Policy 2520.3C, as now, chemistry and physics are recommended to students on a STEM path.

Additionally, part of Policy 2520.3C says that students will be advised and assisted in contacting the institutions of higher learning to which they are interested in applying to determine the admission requirements. Students should include those requirements as they prepare their Personalized Education Plans.

Why are we dumbing down science by moving the 9th grade physical science to 11th grade for those who are college bound?

There were several reasons having Earth and Space Science (ESS) as a freshmen requirement and recommending Physical Science to non-STEM college bound students.

  • ESS is related to numerous science career opportunities in and out of WV. This gives students more opportunity to look into science careers and to select the appropriate courses they will need for college and careers.
  • Research shows a correlation between students' mathematical skills and success in chemistry and physics. Since the ESS course is not as math-dependent as the physical sciences, it is best to teach it first.
  • It is expected that when more students are successful in their freshman science course, more students will continue the pursuit of additional science courses.
  • And, with fewer students failing their freshmen science course, an increase in graduation rates is expected.
  • Twenty-eight states and Washington D.C. do not require students to take physical science, much less have it as a prerequisite for taking chemistry or physics.
  • Student wishing to take physical science, chemistry, or physics earlier than their junior year, are encouraged to double-upon their science courses. This is not an uncommon practice for accelerated students interested in STEM careers.

Dr. James Milgram from Stanford, who was on the Common Core validation team, refused to sign off on the math standards and said that we will be behind the rest of the world by 2 years in math by the 8th grade. How do you respond?

The increase in rigor of the Next Generation Standards for Mathematics (NxG) is acknowledged in Policy 2510 Foundations for High Quality Middle Level Programming.

"Success in High School Math I is crucial to students' overall academic success and their continued interest and engagement in mathematics. Based on perceived redundancies in the former CSOs during the middle grades, districts have increasingly offered the former Algebra I course in grade 8 to enhance rigor. The new K-8 CSOs, however, represent a tight progression of skills and knowledge that is inherently rigorous and designed to provide a strong foundation for success in the new, more advanced, Math I course.

"The NxG Grade 8 CSOs are of significantly higher rigor and more coherent than the former Grade 8 CSOs. The CSOs address the foundations of Algebra by including content that was previously part of the Algebra I course, such as more in-depth study of linear relationships and equations, a more formal treatment of functions, and the exploration of irrational numbers. The NxG Grade 8 CSOs also include geometry CSOs that relate graphing to algebra in a way that was not previously explored. In addition, the statistics presented in the NxG Grade 8 CSOs are more sophisticated than those previously included in middle school and connect linear relations with the representation of bivariate data. The new grade 8 CSOs address more algebra topics than our previous grade 8 CSOs.

"The High School Math I course builds on the grade 8 CSOs and is correspondingly more advanced than the old Algebra I course. Because many of the topics previously included in the old Algebra I course are in the new grade 8 CSOs, the NxG High School Math I course starts with more advanced topics and includes more in depth work with linear functions, exponential functions and relationships, and goes beyond the previous high school CSOs in statistics.

"The selection and placement of students into accelerated opportunities must be done carefully in order to ensure success. It is recommended that placement decisions be made based upon a set of criteria including a readiness assessment to be reviewed by a team of stakeholders that includes teachers and instructional leadership."

Inherent in Policy 2510 is the understanding that much of the content of the previous Algebra I course is now found in the 8th grade mathematics course. As a result, the rigor of all subsequent courses has been increased.

Educator Preparation Questions

How are the standards used with our Specialized Professional Association standards?

Standards are the learning goals for what students should know and be able to do at each grade level. The Specialized Professional Associations' standards ensure that candidates in educational programs receive an education that is consistent with standards for entry into practice or advanced practice in each of an educator-candidate's chosen content area. These standards are used across all applicable grade levels of preparation and are instrumental in state policy development as well as program improvement and planning. SPA standards support performance-based preparation and describe the specialized knowledge and skills to practice safely and effectively across all disciplines. Standards also describe what educators should know and be able to teach. They are intended to be used to assess and help improve the professional knowledge, capabilities, and dispositions of individuals seeking educator licensure.

How much funding will be allocated for veteran teacher training for high school educators? Will they be tested for comprehension?

At the current time, no required amount of funding is allocated for veteran teacher training for high school educators. However, as evidenced through their approved WV Support for Improving Professional Practice (WV SIPP) plans, districts are to provide support to educators based on result of the educator evaluation system. Should high school teachers require support in teaching content; the district will utilize funding accordingly to support this educator.

All licensed educators are required to pass the content area examination for which they are initially certified. At this time, there is no plan to re-test veteran high school educators who have already demonstrated subject matter competency.

Please explain how the teachers were trained. What time frames were established?

Along with state-wide and RESA-based trainings, each county trained teachers in its own way. All teachers have put significant time and effort into learning and teaching the Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives.

What training is being provided to guidance counselors to play a role in this new initiative?

For training at the local level, please consult your area RESA and your county department of education. At the state level, training is related to course requirements with information about how to locate the standards related to each content area to assist with advising middle and high school students about course selections related to their Personalized Education Plans (PEPs). The content specialists have co-presented at several counselor conferences.

Additionally, after new WV Student Success Standards (WVSSS) were developed, crosswalks for each of the content areas were created to show how the WVSSS can naturally be integrated into daily instruction of the various content areas. There have been multiple training sessions at the state and RESA level (Counselor conferences, student success summit, Math Conference, RESA trainings, etc.). The crosswalks are available on the school counseling website.

Are higher ed teaching programs preparing teachers to teach the new standards?

All institutions of higher education in our state with educator preparation programs (EPP) are required to be accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). The accreditation process requires EPPs to be responsible for the validity of evidence offered to demonstrate that standards are met and for continuous improvement efforts.

As any and all standards are revised and/or adopted, EPPs revise teacher preparation curriculum to reflect and implement the new standards. These changes include revising course requirements for a teaching degree to require more courses in subject matter content and developing curricula to meet them. EPPs have multiple measures embedded in their programs to document and monitor candidate progress, effectiveness, and achievements, through their preparation, on-the-job performance, and program completion.

Our students are afraid of math, don't like to read, and don't like school. The federal report card has been poor. Our students are still being taught by people who are not certified in the subject. What are we doing about this lack of certification?

The WVBE has created and adopted WVBE Policy 5901 Alternative Programs for the Education of Teachers in order to provide alternative means for a qualified person to earn a professional teaching certificate. The WVDE, through the Support for Improving Professional Practice (SIPP) requires high-quality induction programs for new teachers, requiring districts to offer these programs, and providing funding to support the programs. Through the educator evaluation process, educators have access to professional development opportunities that are targeted to the particular needs of individual teachers. Such support helps in teacher retention and effectiveness reducing the turnover rate and attracts more new and fully certified educators into the profession. Through the expansion of the Teacher in Residence programs, in collaboration with WV institutions of higher education, the WVBE is assisting districts to have access to educator-candidates who are eligible to do their final clinical experience during a residency as the teacher of record in a classroom. These individuals have completed all preparation and successfully passed all content and pedagogical testing. These individuals are able to staff critical areas of shortage in their content area filling vacancies that otherwise may be staffed with non-certified educators.

How does the assessment of standards affect the educator?

Per WVBE Policy 5310, all West Virginia public school educators have five (5) percent of their annual evaluation calculated from the average observed academic growth of all students within their school, as determined by the students' achievement on the state's annual summative assessment exam.

What training is being provided for teachers to improve their delivery methods?

Along with state-wide and RESA-based trainings, each county trains teachers in its own way. All teachers have put time and effort into learning and teaching the Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives.

Has the state board of education considered taking away tenure for all teachers/administrators? Not all teachers are dedicated to their teaching field and willing to take classes and learn new techniques to teach the Next Gen standards. I am not a math teacher, but I don't think you can teach math entirely on a computer.

To date, the WVBE has not considered taking away tenure for teachers/administrators.

How are teachers evaluated outside test scores? Is "tenure" a guarantee of employment once attained?

Per WVBE Policy 5310, all West Virginia public school teachers have eighty (80) percent of their annual professional evaluation based upon their assess performance within the West Virginia Professional Teaching Standards. Fifteen (15) percent of the annual evaluation is based upon student academic growth, as determined by the results of two (2) teacher created Student Learning Goals. The remaining five (5) percent of the annual professional evaluation is calculated from the average observed academic growth of all students within their school, as determined by the students' achievement on the state's annual summative assessment exam.

Assessment Questions

Why has West Virginia taken the stance to not allow parents to opt out of common core?

The Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives, West Virginia's adaptation of the Common Core State Standards, is the set of standards adopted by the West Virginia Board of Education. Parents cannot "opt out" of the standards.

The question about "opting out" usually applies to the West Virginia General Summative Assessment, which is aligned to the standards and designed to measure student understanding of the material being taught. Neither West Virginia law nor the regulations of the State Board of Education contain any provisions for "opting-out" of statewide assessments.

The state summative assessment gathers important information which can be used to help improve teaching and learning for each individual student. Additionally, the state summative assessments ensure West Virginia meets federal accountability requirements and provide data to help determine school designations.

Why can't we measure achievement of the standards by the teachers' grading alone?

The best way for teachers to evaluate how well students are reaching their goals is by using multiple measures of achievement throughout the school year. West Virginia uses a balanced system that includes teacher observations, graded classroom assignments, classroom assessments, and student-teacher conferences. The purpose of the statewide assessment is to provide an objective year-end assessment that is free from scoring interpretation and subjectivity.

Are the standards in correlation at all with SAT or ACT tests?

Both ACT and the College Board (which administers SAT) indicate their assessments are aligned to the Common Core State Standards.

Have SBAC results been sorted according to the amount of time that counties have been implementing Next Gen? In other words, are we able to learn from the different approaches, as there is currently much variance across our state in implementing these standards?

WVDE has not engaged in any official research regarding the 2015 West Virginia General Summative Assessment results and when counties implemented the standards. However, we do know that students in Grade 3 exceeded projections in both ELA and math on the West Virginia General Summative Assessment. Grade 3 students are those who have had the longest exposure to teacher-developed curricula that address the Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives.

Please clarify opting out of tests versus standards. It seems testing is being confused with standards.

Essentially, what some parents and students consider as "opting out" is actually "refusing to test."

The standards are the goals for what we want students to know, understand and be able to do. These are set by the West Virginia Board of Education. They are required for all students. Testing, or the WV General Summative Assessment, is one way for educators, students and parents to verify, at the end of the school year, how well students have achieved these yearly academic goals. Parents may refuse to have their children tested. However, refusal to test greatly affects the school's accreditation and, therefore, federal funding.

While West Virginia adjusted the standards to best fit the needs of West Virginia students, how has West Virginia had input on the adjustments to the testing on the standards?

West Virginia has been very involved in the development and adjustments to the Smarter Balanced Assessments for English language arts/literacy and mathematics from the beginning. West Virginia Department of Education staff have served in various governing roles and many West Virginia educators have been involved in every aspect of test development, including item authoring; content, bias and sensitivity review; rubric review; range finding; and development of resources for the Digital Library. Twenty-nine individuals from West Virginia, including educators, parents and business leaders participated in the achievement level setting process. Because of this involvement, West Virginia educators have had a voice in all aspects of the West Virginia General Summative Assessment.

Since ACT and SAT are national tests, couldn't we just use one or both of these tests as a measurement for how our educational system is working?

ACT and SAT are college admissions exams. They do not cover grades 3-8, so tests would have to be developed for those grades. For all grades, due to state purchasing and procurement laws, any new tests (or use of ACT and SAT) must be put out to bid. Additionally, a new alignment study would have to be done and new testing vendors also would have to agree to our data sharing and data privacy policies.

Information in the media indicates West Virginia is below the national average on SAT or ACT scores. Is this across all counties?

WVDE does not have specific information regarding West Virginia's SAT scores or scores for individual counties for 2015. According to news reports from October 2014, West Virginia's students improved in core subject areas of reading, writing and math on the SAT compared to the previous year's test results. In all subjects, the state's average was better than the national average.

Recently, an examination of the state's 2015 ACT scores showed 19 counties had average composite ACT scores that were equal to or higher than the state average of 20.8.

What are the consequences to the teachers and administrators when children test poorly?

School administrators can use student test results to initiate conversations with parents, teachers, counselors and students on ways to improve student achievement school-wide.

If many students test poorly, then (under West Virginia's accountability system) school designations could be affected. This could affect federal funding and require the use of school improvement strategies or even the involvement of the state.

Will test scores from last year be sent to parents? When?

Yes, each school must send individual student score reports home to parents by September 23, 2015. Districts and schools were notified in early August that they could begin printing and distributing student reports. Many districts and schools have already sent reports home.

Regarding the education of our children, who is your customer? If it is the parents/child, then why does the federal government dictate the necessity of testing?

WVDE cannot speak on behalf of the federal government as to why it dictates certain testing requirements. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act, more commonly known as No Child Left Behind, requires states, districts and schools to assess students in English language arts/literacy and mathematics in at least grades 3-8 and one grade in high school, and to assess students in science in at least one grade in elementary, one grade in middle school and one grade in high school. States, districts and schools must follow federal law in order to receive important federal funding for educational programs.

Why can't parents see the tests our children are subjected to under Common Core?

The reason for securing test questions is to ensure the validity and reliability of test results. Maintaining the security of the tests ensures that the test truly measures the knowledge, skills and abilities of each student in a valid and reliable manner. This practice is not unique to the Smarter Balanced test. Parents were similarly not able to see test questions on the Westest and Westest 2.

However, everyone is welcome to explore sample tests and questions. These are available on the WV Assessment Portal.

Do you think 6th grade students should rely on calculators for SBAC testing?

Students should not have to rely on calculators to perform basic math computations; however, calculator use often facilitates assessment. Depending on what is being assessed in the question(s) a student is answering, a calculator may or may not be appropriate. If the purpose of the question is to determine if a student is able to perform a mathematical calculation, calculator use WOULD NOT be appropriate. If the question is assessing a student's ability to reason through a problem, solve an algebraic equation, etc. where the basic math computations are secondary to the objective of the question, the calculator use WOULD be appropriate.

In conjunction with the Higher Education Policy Commission and based on the recommendations by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the WVDE developed Calculator Usage Guidelines, which may be found at https://wvde.state.wv.us/.../CalculatorUsageGuidelinesProposal.doc. Importantly, the guidelines explain "the use of calculators does not eliminate the need to master the basic algorithmic skills and processes of mathematics. In particular, all students must have a mastery of numerical skills including multiplication facts, fractions, and integer operations as they are essential prerequisites to the study of algebra." The document also notes "that appropriate use of calculators in the mathematics classroom heightens the development of mathematical understanding in students at all levels." It highlights "the value of calculators as students discover patterns, analyze data, represent problems in personally meaningful ways, make and test conjectures, and study concepts that would otherwise be beyond their understanding" and its ability to "aid in the development of computational fluency, encourage deeper student interest, enable students with weak computational skills to move forward, and allow for more time to be used for critical thinking skills."

Why does teaching seem to stop after assessment tests are given?

Teaching should not stop after students take the West Virginia General Summative Assessment. Counties and schools should address this question locally. The assessment is an important component in gathering information about how well students have mastered the standards they have been learning. Teaching should be taking place from the first day of school until the last day of school.

Are the current SAT and ACT tests aligned with the Common Core?

Both ACT and the College Board (which administers SAT) indicate their assessments are aligned to the Common Core State Standards.

Are there any plans for addressing issues for testing caused by lack of broadband, lack of familiarity with computer testing, and difficulty in using the testing mechanism?

Over the past few years, the state has made great strides in improving the state's technological infrastructure and bandwidth, and we continue to work with individual districts to address their needs.

West Virginia is considered a leader in the use of computer-based testing. In 2005, we began administering the Online Writing Assessment on the computer, and in 2013-14, we moved all of WESTEST 2 online to help students become more familiar with computer-based testing. Based on feedback from our districts, teachers and students, the majority of our students had no problem with using the test delivery system during the spring 2015 test administration.

Could the problems created with test materials actually be part of the problem with test scores and testing times (WV students taking half the prescribed time?)

The WVDE is not aware of any problems with regard to the test materials. The estimated testing times provided by Smarter Balanced were based on field test data. An analysis of actual testing time data for our state did show that the more time students spent answering the questions, the better their scores. However, the WVDE does not have any specific reasons why some students spent less responding to the questions than other students.

Why has social studies been dropped from testing?

For the 2015 spring administration, the West Virginia Board of Education approved a waiver for WVBE Policy 2340 to administer a science assessment only in grades 4, 6 and 10 and to not administer a social studies assessment.

If a district wants to raise its standards, is that possible without hurting test scores and struggling from ACT/SAT alignment?

The Next Generation Standards and Objectives outline what students at each grade level should know and be able to do by the end of the school year. If districts want to raise their requirements above that they are free to do so.

Do you feel it is right to base a student's Smarter Balanced score on what class they take?

The scores are not based on what classes students take. The scores are based on the students' correct or incorrect responses to the questions on the assessment.

As a student from out of state, I came here with my SAT scores since that is what was stressed the most. The ACT wasn't, and with the standards will students be encouraged to take both or just one?

Decisions about the SAT and ACT should be made by students and their parents, with input from their counselors. Which test(s) to take depend on the requirements of the colleges to which a student wants to apply.

For the Next Gen standards, how are assessments measured? Are they to see what students have learned or what needs to be strengthened?

Both. It is important to note that the West Virginia General Summative Assessment is only a part of determining what students know and can do. Teachers use multiple methods in the classroom (quizzes, student conferences, portfolios etc.) to track their students' progress and determine if they need additional help in any area.

Regarding Common Core/SBA testing, what is the "raw score" to meet the "proficiency" level in math (grades 3-11)?

The cut scores for proficiency are based on scale scores. Below are the scores needed to obtain proficiency.

Math Cut Scores
Grade 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
Proficiency Cut 2436 2485 2528 2552 2567 2586 2599 2614 2628

Will this group be addressing state wide assessments as well? That seems to be an issue that our citizens commonly confuse with the Next Gen standards.

Upon completion of the Academic Spotlight project, the next logical step was to take a look at the assessment system in West Virginia. To do so, the State Superintendent has assembled a Commission on Assessment, comprised of a variety of stakeholders. This Commission is tasked with evaluating the current assessment system and making recommendations for needed changes to the system. The initial meeting of the Commission occurred on December 1, 2015.

Teachers complain about how all we do is teach to the test and there are too many practice tests. Don't these take away quality learning time?

Last school year, 2014-2015, was the first time the new general summative assessment was given to students. Because this new test is both online and computer-adaptive, students were given a short (approximately eight questions per content area) training test, which was designed to show students how to use the new, computer-adaptive testing program.

The practice tests, which can be given at any time during the school year, provide teachers and students with opportunities to see how well students are understanding the major concepts they are being taught.

If the standards are aligned to the assessment, what is the assessment's purpose? What do the results tell the WV Dept. of Education, local boards, principals, teachers, parents, and ultimately the student?

The standards are not aligned to the assessment, the assessment is aligned to the standards. The standards are developed first. They are developed by West Virginia teachers to provide a general framework within which teachers design their own curricula. Teachers determine what materials to use in their classrooms, how to pace their classes and how to provide all students with the support they need.

If the standards of Common Core are so successful, what accounts for the lowest nationwide SAT scores in math and English in decades?

According to SAT (https://www.collegeboard.org/program-results/2014/west-virginia), an average of 42.6% of students who took the assessment nationwide met the college- and career-readiness benchmark in 2014. In West Virginia, 43.9% of students met the college- and career-readiness benchmark on the SAT in 2014. Our students were above the national average.

Miscellaneous Questions

Why did the state Board of Education see fit to override the legislature and threaten to sue when repeal was on the books?

The Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives were not repealed by the 2015 Legislature. WVDE is unaware of any attempts by the state Board of Education to override any legislation that was passed by the Legislature.

WVDE is unaware of any threat by the state Board of Education to initiate litigation over the Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives. However, both the WVDE and the state Board of Education have been named as a party to a lawsuit involving the Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives.

Knowing the House voted 81-19 to repeal Common Core, what is the backup plan if their minds don't change in January?

WVDE has engaged in a thorough, thoughtful and transparent process to review West Virginia's K-12 academic standards. WVDE hopes that the Legislature takes the results of such process into consideration during the 2015-2016 legislative session.

How do you handle the importance of educational standards against the political pressures that seem to be in opposition?

Everyone involved in this discussion has the same goal - high-quality education for West Virginia students. We all want our students to be prepared and to find success in school and beyond.

Why do people who have nothing to do with education make decisions about education?

Everyone has an interest in ensuring West Virginia's young people receive the best education possible - they are the future of our state. WVDE welcomes everyone's suggestion on how to improve education in this State.

After Common Core standards are repealed by the legislature this winter, is the WV Dept. of Education prepared to remove them in an efficient manner?

The WVDE will do whatever is required by the State Legislature and the State Board of Education.

What did the world/country/state do before we had nationwide/statewide standards?

West Virginia has had educational standards since the 1980s; prior to this, the educational expectations were set at the local level. Having statewide standards avoids the quality of education being affected by geographic location.

Discussions about mathematics standards and changes in focus have been ongoing since the early 1900's. In 1915 William Heard Kilpatrick was appointed the National Education Association's Commission on the Reorganization of Secondary Education to chair a committee to study the problem of teaching mathematics in the high schools. In 1925 he published a book that became a widely used text for education teachers. In the 1930's - 1940's reform focused on "practical" applications. In the 1950's-1960's, the "New Math" reform developed due to the Cold War and the United States seen as falling behind in mathematics and science. In the early 1960's, most states began to create basic competency tests and in some states, these were used as a graduation requirement. In 1983 - A Nation at Risk, by a commission appointed by the US Secretary of Education, is published citing a need for a reform in education in several areas.

Standards have been evolving since the early 1900's. Student education has persisted in the midst of this change.

Why do the parents have to find ways to teach their kids? Isn't that the teacher's job?

As always, teachers have the responsibility to make their content accessible to students of all abilities and educational backgrounds. Teachers have the expertise to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of the unique learners in their classrooms so that students who fall behind receive support and students who are ahead are challenged further. Parents who support and encourage their children reinforce the work of the classroom teacher and make the educational process a more positive experience.

Prior to May 2010 (the month the WVBE adopted the Common Core and Smarter Balanced testing), what were the dates and locations of public hearings required by WV code 18-2h-2? Which states "prior to the adoption or implementation of any state-mandated education reform which constitutes a significant change in the philosophy or goals of education... the state board shall give notice and hold public hearings."

The WVDE maintains that the alignment of its Next Generation Standards with the Common Core State Standards was not a significant change in the philosophy or goals of education in the public schools of West Virginia. Rather, it was a continuation of the West Virginia Board of Education's statutory and constitutional responsibility to adopt educational standards that include learning outcomes for various grade levels and to revise them as the need arises to maintain their currency and relevancy. See W. Va. Code §18-2E-5(a)(2) and Pauley v. Bailey, 174 W. Va. 167, 324 S.E.2d (1984).

Do you support the federal government loosening the FERPA laws and the P-20 data collection? With the statewide longitudinal data systems grant program, P-20 tracks K-12, college and into the labor force.

The West Virginia Department of Education takes student data privacy very seriously and takes active measures to ensure personally identifiable student data is protected in accordance with West Virginia law.

FERPA, The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, is the federal law that ensures basic privacy protections for students' education records. Although FERPA is a foundation for protecting privacy, the West Virginia Legislature and the West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) have enacted additional laws and policies that strengthen privacy protections for West Virginia students. Information about these regulations is available at http://wvde.state.wv.us/zoomwv/data-privacy.html. Regardless of any potential changes to federal law, the West Virginia Department of Education will continue to adhere to our state's strong regulations requiring stringent protections for student information.

With respect to the P-20 system, this is a database that was created in 2009 by the West Virginia Legislature (W. Va. Code §18B-1D-10) and requires the collaboration among the West Virginia Department of Education, the Higher Education Policy Commission, and the Council for Community and Technical College Education to maintain a statewide longitudinal information system for examining how well prepared our students are for both education and careers after high school. The system is not intended to track individual students. Rather, it is designed to determine how well our education systems — from public schools through colleges — are doing in achieving their primary goal of adequately preparing West Virginia students for college and the global workforce.