New West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Michael Martirano has announced his new plan to ensure all students in the state receive "a world-class education."
Goals for the new plan focus on four main categories: improving teaching; improving safety on school grounds; improving organization; and improving involvement of stakeholders.
The six-step plan, "One Voice, One Focus: All Students Achieving," will achieve these goals by focusing on raising student expectations, offering competitive pay to teachers to keep them from finding higher-paying jobs in other states, working on closing the student achievement gap, increase graduation and attendance rates within the state public school system, place a higher focus on the early childhood education system, and offer more support to at-risk students.
"This is a very new experience for our board," State school board president Gayle Manchin said after Wednesday's Board of Education meeting. "We've never had a superintendent that said, from the very beginning, âI want to work with this board to create the model of education excellence for West Virginia.' That just has never been the standard before. So it was very energizing, and I think everyone is very excited about the possibilities.
"But it's also overwhelming. There's a lot to be done," she said. "We've taken baby steps toward this direction before, but, certainly, there's a great deal of work yet to be done."
According to the plan, comprehensive audits will be performed to reveal any inefficiencies and ensure the department is working together to improve the system.
However, the Department of Education said an expensive audit was already performed under the request of Governor Earl Ray Tomblin in 2012, costing taxpayers $750,000.
"I asked, too, âHow is this different?' But the difference is, this is sort of the next level," Manchin said. "We look at the recommendations that came out of [Tomblin's] audit and see how we can use them to revamp this. How can we reorganize and what can people do differently in this office, now that we know what we know?"
"I always go back to the big picture," she said. " What impressed me about this plan is the depth of thought that Dr. Martirano put into this. It's exactly what we want to do."
Martirano said the the plan all comes down to the success of students within the state, and making sure each student is provided an equal educational opportunity. When he was sworn into office last month, Martirano stated that all children "can and will learn," and that educators and all citizens of the state should work together to provide "one voice, one focus and all students achieving." This new plan echoes those sentiments.
"The education of our students is critical. We just can't leave things to chance," said the new superintendent. "There has to be a very organized fashion and a very methodical fashion on how we're going to improve student achievement."