A Survey of State Initiatives
At the request of Gov. John D. Rockefeller 4th, the West Virginia legislature during a special session in June appropriated $750,000 from the general fund and $600,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission to purchase and set up a computer network system to be used to improve computer literacy and instruction in secondary vocational schools in the state.
The computer system will link 17 vocational schools, according to Nicholas Hobar, assistant chief of the the state education department's bureau of learning systems. The system, he said, will eventually expand to include all of the state's 1,333 public schools.
The state board has given tentative approval to two teacher-training programs designed to address the shortage of mathematics and science teachers that has affected more than half of the school districts in the state.
One proposal would train early retirees from business with professional experience in mathematics and science, according to Mr. Gabrys. He said that six of seven early retirees he contacted responded favorably to such a plan and indicated that they would be able to teach math in the lower grades.
Mr. Gabrys described the other program as a "teacher corps" of teachers employed by the state to teach in "high-need" counties, with shortages of math, science, and special-education teachers.
Earlier this year, the state department, under court order, developed a master education plan, approved in March by Ohio County Circuit Judge Arthur M. Recht, that recommended that computer literacy be integrated into all areas of instruction, according to Mr. Hobar.
The West Virginia Task Force on Technology in Education, a 34-member panel of educators, parents, and community leaders appointed in June by the state commissioner of education, is now considering the use of computers and related technology in the classroom and will be recommending programs and fiscal alternatives to meet the goals of the master plan, according to Mr. Hobar.
Among the other areas addressed in the master plan were curriculum and teachers, according to Robert Gabrys, director of education personnel development. He said the master plan recommends that the state hire a county mathematics supervisor and designate mathematics coordinators for each school building.
The state board of education last year increased the number of years of required math from one to two.