The West Virginia Board of Education has been busy throughout the summer.
In its most recent meeting, the board took steps to start its national search for a state schools superintendent.
Outgoing WVBOE President Wade Linger said in a news release the current superintendent, James Phares, is doing a good job, but the BOE indicated all along that it wanted to conduct a nationwide search.
The West Virginia Legislature recently changed state code to eliminate the section that required the state superintendent to have a degree in education administration, and the position's salary cap also was removed.
The WVBOE also asked West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey to assist in hiring a search firm and to ensure the hiring process is done properly. Morrisey told board members he will seek a formal bid to involve outside counsel with expertise in the area of national searches, and he also will make his staff available throughout the hiring process to answer questions.
Board members will continue to work on the details related to the search budget and the timeline for the search.
The BOE also worked on addressing the request from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin that all students read at their grade level by the end of the third grade.
During the meeting, board members mandated all new teachers take and pass an assessment that would guarantee the teachers have all the necessary skills to teach reading.
"We continue to work with our colleges and universities to raise standards for teachers, especially in the area of reading instruction, and we also have begun exploring how we can assure that all our current teachers have the skills needed for the critical task of teaching not only reading but all subjects to our youngest students," the BOE High-Quality Educator Committee co-chair Gayle Manchin said in a news release.
Tomblin's education reform agenda included several initiatives, and the BOE is continuing to address it. Other actions the board took include: establishing a commission to review the current governance structure of the state's 55 county board of education; "aggressively" pursuing the use of the state's Regional Education Service Agencies, or RESAs, to create efficiencies and to decentralize the delivery of professional development; coordinating staff for cross-counseling between public education and community colleges; and requiring every career center adopt or develop at least one career pathway that meets Southern Regional Education Board standards for "Preparation for Tomorrow."
The BOE High Quality Educator Committee also received a report from Teach for America, a program that currently is not allowed in West Virginia, but was heavily debated at the Legislature as part of the education reform bill.