U.S. Department of Education Approves West Virginia's Plans to Provide Equal Access to Excellent Educators

October 22, 2015

Charleston, W.Va. – As part of its Excellent Educators for All initiative—designed to ensure that all students have equal access to a high-quality education—the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) today announced the approval of West Virginia’s plan to ensure equitable access to excellent educators.

West Virginia’s Educator Equity Plan (Equity Plan) was submitted to the USDE June 1, 2015. The plan details West Virginia’s approach to improving access to excellent educators for West Virginia’s most disadvantaged youth and identifies one of the primary equity gaps as the high number of ineffective teachers within high-poverty high schools.

West Virginia recognizes the importance of having highly effective teachers within every classroom in the state, and the plan outlines a comprehensive approach to strengthening and maintaining teacher and principal effectiveness, with an emphasis on schools with the greatest need. Specifically, West Virginia has highlighted an ongoing comprehensive plan to address equity in its neediest district, McDowell County.

“We are committed to improving student outcomes across the state by expanding access to excellent teaching for all students,” said State Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Michael Martirano. “Every student is entitled to a world-class education regardless of their background.”

To address this equity gap, the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) is working to implement a multifaceted action plan which will both enhance statewide individual professional learning and build teacher leadership capacity within schools. The intent is to decrease the number of ineffective teachers in all schools, but most importantly in high-poverty high schools.

WVDE is working with external entities to embed a personalized learning platform into the existing online educator evaluation system. Once completed, educators statewide will have immediate access to professional learning opportunities, not only aligned to the state’s professional teaching standards, but also aligned to areas of need identified by the educator and their evaluator through the online evaluation system. Additionally, WVDE is collaborating with external partners to incorporate a plan which incentivizes effective teaching.

“We knew a successful plan for teacher and leader equity could not be developed in isolation,” said Dr. Monica Beane, Executive Director of the Office of Educator Effectiveness. “The plan’s success will depend heavily on the long-term involvement of stakeholders and our collective commitment to implementation.”

The Equity Plan was finalized after incorporating peer review feedback from several stakeholder groups. Among these stakeholders are parents, community groups, teachers, representatives from higher education, school boards, civil rights and the business community.

In addition to West Virginia, USDE approved plans in 16 states and the District of Columbia. Those states are taking promising steps to eliminate the gaps some students face in access to excellent educators by implementing strategies and innovative solutions to challenging problems that meet local needs. Each of these states and the District of Columbia engaged a variety of stakeholder groups to ensure that these plans not only include strategies that will be effective in eliminating identified equity gaps, but also to ensure that these strategies are meaningful for the students, teachers, and communities in which they will be implemented.

In July 2014, the U.S. Department of Education announced a comprehensive Excellent Educators for All Initiative. As part of this initiative, states were asked to create new, comprehensive plans that put in place locally-developed solutions to ensure every student has equal access to effective educators. These plans are required by Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have submitted their plans for review by the Department.

West Virginia’s plan in its entirety can be found online at http://wvde.state.wv.us/certification/data/documents/WVDEEquityPlanSeptember2015.pdf

For additional information, contact Kristin Anderson at the West Virginia Department of Education Office of Communications at 304-558-2699 or Kristin.Anderson@k12.wv.us.

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