State Superintendent of Schools: James B. Phares
Primary Points of Contact:
- Robin Anglin-Sizemore — Science Coordinator, Office of Secondary Learning
The following summarizes content from the state's application for Lead State Partner in 2011.
Partner Organizations: Teacher Leadership Institute; West Virginia Youth Science Camp; Youth Science Discovery Experience; National Youth Science Foundation; West Virginia Elementary, Middle School and High School Science Teachers; West Virginia STEM Coalition, National Radio Astronomy Organization, and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.
Background: West Virginia requires all students complete at least three credits of science in order to graduate from high school. West Virginia has two graduation pathways, a skilled pathway and a professional pathway, and the pathway taken alters the students’ science requirements. All students are required to take Physical Science and either Biology or Conceptual Biology, students in the skilled pathway are required to take one additional elective science course, and students in the professional pathway are required to take two additional elective science courses. West Virginia has grade level standards for grades K–8 that have detailed grade level objectives that have proven difficult to accomplish in a year’s time. West Virginia has created revisions to these standards to condense and cluster these objectives, but has not yet adopted them due to the impending development of the Next Generation Science Standards. West Virginia’s high school standards are organized by content, ninth grade being physical science, tenth grade being biology or conceptual biology, and elective courses making up the rest of the science requirements. Science is assessed in West Virginia through the WESTEST 2 annually in grades 3–11 which follows the state mandated curriculum. West Virginia has postponed its current standards revision schedule in order to wait for the completion of the NGSS, and therefore is anxious to adopt the NGSS and has already allocated state funds toward implementation.
Commitment: West Virginia has shown a strong commitment to standards based learning through its adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and its position as a governing state in SMARTER Balanced. West Virginia has also shown commitment to the NGSS by putting their statewide standards revision process on hold in order to wait to implement the NGSS when released. They have protocol in place from the CCSS and hope to use this among other tools in implementing the NGSS statewide.
STEM Involvement: The West Virginia STEM Coalition was developed as a stakeholders’ organization with the intention of supporting and lending guidance on STEM initiatives throughout the state and is comprised of members of the West Virginia Senate and Legislature, educators, business and industry experts, and higher education professionals. Additionally, the National Youth Science Foundation has partnered with the West Virginia Department of Education to incorporate Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) into student programs.
Alliances and Infrastructure: West Virginia has associations in place with organizations related to science education that will be supportive of NGSS implementation statewide. The Teacher Leadership Institute annually focuses on science literacy, and the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects will now serve as a guide as teachers learn more about standards based education. Additionally, beginning this year West Virginia started a Youth Science Camp, modeled after the National Youth Science Camp, which provides incoming sophomore students with the ability to have hands on science experiences facilitated by renowned scientists. Likewise, the Youth Science Discovery Experience, sponsored by the National Youth Science Foundation allows for a similar experience with hopes to expand tremendously in the next year. West Virginia High School Science Teachers at the National Youth Science Camp (WVHSST@NYSC) is another hands on learning experience, however this program is in place for teachers to work alongside students to further their science knowledge, and allow them to not only engage in learning, but with students as well. These programs are great hands on experiences for West Virginia students and teachers, and are continuing to expand throughout the state. West Virginia also has actively engaged higher education through the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission’s Science and Research Council, which guides science research at colleges and universities statewide, and meets quarterly with the West Virginia Department of Education.
Check back soon for more information on West Virginia's state team and implementation plans