Ashton Marra Published

W.Va. to Take on Study of Early Education


The West Virginia Department of Education is partnering with West Virginia University and the National Institute for Early Education Research to conduct a long term study on early childhood education in the state.

The study will follow a group of three and four-year-olds beginning in West Virginia’s pre-K system this fall through the next five years of their education, tracking their achievement along the way.

West Virginia spends nearly $160 million annually on its universal pre-K system, which the state’s Chief Academic Office Clayton Burch called one of the best in the nation.

But Burch said there has been no research conducted on how students in the system fare as they continue into elementary schools. So, the goal of this is to follow them until third grade to see if they are reading on grade level.

“If kids aren’t on grade level by third grade, their chances of dropping out, their chances of not graduating increases drastically,” Burch said. “So, we want to know what’s working and what’s not.”

Assuring third grade literacy is a priority of Governor Tomblin’s. That’s why some $5.6 million of the state budget were committed to ensuring all students in West Virginia meet that goal.

Burch said a portion of those funds, about $300,000 a year, will go toward the study conducted by researchers at WVU.