Students Describe What They Want In a 21st Century School

August 13, 2008

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Nearly 3,500 middle and high school students across West Virginia told the state Department of Education that they want more technology in public schools.

The response was one of many students made in an online survey, conducted in May and June. Preliminary results also show that four out of every 10 students believe their schools are doing some things right. More than 50 percent of the students who took the survey said their schools were doing a good job providing hands-on and real world learning, with online classes and integrating technology into lessons.

“We heard from students in their own words about what is working in our schools and what we can improve,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Steven Paine. “Students can be candid and insightful. They are our most important constituents.”

West Virginia has worked to add rigor to its educational system as part of its 21st Century Learning initiative. Such a systemic evolution of the state’s educational system should result in a deeper understanding of core curriculum. It integrates problem solving, communication, critical thinking and technology skills into what is already taught in the classroom so that students can thrive in a globally diverse marketplace and lead a personally satisfying and productive life.

“Students must be able to comprehend, problem solve and communicate solutions if they are expected to succeed globally,” Paine said. “We must provide our graduates with the intellectual capital needed in an interconnected world and I believe this plan will do that.”

The survey’s results echo concerns voiced at student forums conducted in Beckley, Huntington, Martinsburg and Morgantown earlier this year. Student participants were asked to respond to three questions:

1.    Describe your ideal school.

2.    What is working in your school and classrooms?

3.    What is not working in your school and classrooms?

Students overwhelmingly said their ideal school would include a strong curriculum, challenging online courses, and more hands-on learning. Many said their schools lacked technology and had computers that were slow with out-of-date software. However, students were quick to say teachers were trying hard to bring in technology.

Eight of the nearly 5,000 students who responded to the online survey were randomly selected to receive an iPod touch. The department will use the feedback from the online student survey to fine-tune the 21st Century Learning initiative.

The survey can be viewed at:

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


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