New School Year Begins Following Unprecedented Year of Progress

August 27, 1999

Nearly 300,000 students will report to school this week in classrooms all across West Virginia, said State Superintendent Dr. Henry Marockie. "While every school year is important, this year is especially significant since we will enter the new millennium," Marockie noted. "We are excited about the promise and possibilities that lie ahead for education in West Virginia."  

While most teachers and children vacationed over the last few months, West Virginia education moved forward with great strides. During the summer, the state received two multi-million dollar grants that will impact students and educators. In late July, the Department of Education received $2.28 million for a teacher quality enhancement program designed to increase student achievement by improving teacher quality. WV-IMPACT– Implementing Model Practices to Assure Competent Teachers– is aimed at strengthening teacher education programs and in increasing content knowledge and skills for teachers.  

Last week, the Department of Education received $5.99 million to help improve the reading skills of all West Virginians, specifically kindergarten through third-grade children. READING FOR ALL will allow West Virginia to create programs that use reading research to improve the skills of students, particularly at-risk students.  

As the school year ended in June, the Department received a potential $4.5 million to launch a training program to prevent the use of tobacco among teenagers. In the nation's first statewide effort, hundreds of sixth grade teachers were trained over the summer in "Life Skills Training," a curricular program that is a proven drug prevention program.  

In late June, the statewide results were released on the Stanford Achievement Test, Ninth Edition. Students continued to show strong improvement with fifth graders making the greatest gains by registering a two-percentile point improvement. Every other grade increased by one percentile point with the exception of grade six, which remained stable with the highest percentile score. Forty-eight of the state's 55 county school districts, or 87%, scored at or above the 50th percentile in total basic skills.  

"Over the years we have pushed for better results and higher achievement," stated Superintendent Marockie. "We have been able to realize tremendous progress as a result of the hard work of board members, teachers, administrators, service personnel, parents, citizens, legislators and the governor."  

West Virginia's top education achievements include: three consecutive #1 national rankings in Education Week's "Quality Counts" report; a computer effort that has placed computers in all elementary classrooms and was recognized by an independent research team for establishing a direct link between learning technology and higher academic achievement; a partnership with Bell Atlantic-WV to bring Internet to all schools; a $900 million school construction program; nationally-recognized institutional education programs; and safe schools initiatives, including the Responsible Students Program that is a national model.  


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