Ashton Marra Published

When It Comes to Education, W.Va. and Ky. Have Plenty to Talk About


On Wednesday, members of the West Virginia Board of Education traveled to Frankfort, Kentucky, to meet with their education counterparts and watch as the Kentucky BOE conducted their monthly meeting. Thursday West Virginia Board President Gayle Manchin said the two states have plenty in common.

It starts with standards. Kentucky and West Virginia are just two of forty four states that have adopted the national Common Core Standards, but in West Virginia, those standards were adapted to fit the state’s needs and titled the Next Generation Standards.

Then there’s economics. In eastern Kentucky especially where coal mining is a major part of the economy, the state is suffering the same economic downturn as West Virginia in the energy sector, but there’s much more according to Manchin.

“It doesn’t matter how very different we are, at the end of the day, state boards are interested in raising student achievement in their state,” Manchin said. “So, we are constantly looking at the policies we have developed, are the working? Are they being implemented? Are we accomplishing what we are hoping to accomplish?”

Manchin and her fellow members spent Wednesday watching as the Kentucky BOE conducted their June meeting, the first visit of its kind for West Virginia, Manchin believes.

There were two policies in particular that stood out to the West Virginia education leader. The first, a policy that allows teachers to prepare multiple lessons ahead of time that are available for students on iPads or other devices they either own or borrow from their schools.

“So, when schools was called off students had assignment and the could do work at home on a snow day,” Manchin said. “This opportunity to have school out of school is becoming more and more of a reality.”

Kentucky allows school districts using the plan to designate up to ten snow days as instructional days. It’s something West Virginia has considered, Manchin said, but hasn’t developed a plan for yet.

The second policy that stood out, Kentucky’s strategic plan. Manchin said the state’s board and Department of Education have developed a formula to lay out measured goals for the next five years in multiple areas that measure student achievement.

Manchin used the example of high school graduation rates, something West Virginia talks about often. The Kentucky board has a percentage rate of growth laid out for each year until 2020 as their goal to increase those rates, but they’ve also done it for things like closing the achievement gap as well.

“To have a goal there really puts more emphasis on what your goal is, plus whatever method you’re using to get there, it gives you a pretty clear indication of if its working or not,” Manchin said.

The West Virginia BOE plans to discuss the trip at their June meeting scheduled for the 13th in Charleston, but Manchin said some outcomes are already making themselves apparent. Kentucky has talked of sending some of its board members to West Virginia to watch a BOE meeting at some point in the near future and Manchin said Virginia and Tennessee’s boards have also expressed interest in a similar exchange.