West Virginia – Instructional Materials
In a study of 15 Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) states, researchers at SREB identified the degree to which the West Virginia Department of Education provided leadership and support for the statewide use of high-quality instructional materials that aligned to the state’s K-12 college- and career-readiness standards in English language arts (ELA) and math.
SREB developed a list of actions that demonstrate state leadership and support in each of the three areas listed below. These actions, or “look-fors,” guided data collection and the analysis of state efforts. Read about the look-fors in the full report, located to the right. State efforts in each area fell into one of three levels of implementation: minimal, essential or strong. In some cases, SREB researchers also designated a state action as notable. Below is a detailed description of this state’s efforts.
Table of Contents
|Highlights||Area 1||Area 2||Area 3||Moving Forward|
- Notable support for local efforts to align instructional materials. The department partnered with the state’s Regional Education Service Agencies (RESAs) to provide 30 volunteer Catalyst Schools with professional learning on and assistance with alignment of instructional materials in 2015-16. The department reported plans to expand this work to all 727 schools in the state in 2016-17. The department also collaborated with SREB to train local trainers on Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) and Mathematics Design Collaborative (MDC) tools and practices, and reported plans to expand the work to all secondary schools in the state. This support helped build local capacity on the state’s Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives, which educators implemented in 2014-15 and 2015-16. It also assists educators as they learn about, design and deliver instruction on the West Virginia College- and Career-Readiness Standards beginning in 2016-17.
- Strong use of data to guide continuous improvement. The department gathered several types of data on a regular basis. Data included educator needs and trends in their use and perceptions of the quality of the state’s guidance, instructional materials, professional learning and technical assistance. These data were gathered from student assessment results, and educator usage of and feedback on the department’s TREE resource repository. The department also gathered information on local curriculum alignment practices through district reporting procedures. The department studied the impact of using state-provided support on teacher knowledge and practice and student outcomes, by examining educator evaluation ratings at Catalyst Schools and student annual assessment results at MDC schools. To use the data gathered to inform state efforts, staff in the department’s offices of research and assessment, and content area offices regularly met with department leaders and educators in the field.
Did the department establish clear criteria and a clear process for identifying high-quality instructional materials aligned to the state’s college- and career-readiness standards?
West Virginia provided essential leadership and support in this area.
The department established clear and consistent criteria to assess the quality of textbooks (referred to in West Virginia as instructional materials) and online, on-demand instructional materials and their alignment to the state’s college- and career-readiness standards—the Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives (NxG CSOs). The department established a clear process that involved educators to develop, review and select online, on-demand instructional materials.
Table 1: State Criteria and Processes for Reviewing Textbooks and Online, On-Demand Instructional Materials
|State authority and role in developing and selecting instructional materials||Criteria the state used to develop and select materials||Process the state used to develop and select materials|
|In accordance with state law:
||The department developed rubrics (documents that outline expectations, guidelines and procedures), called criteria for adoption and provided them to the Instructional Materials Review Committee.||
The Instructional Materials Review Committee, made up of teachers and department content specialists appointed by the board, was responsible for reviewing and recommending items for adoption by the board. Items were adopted at least every six years. Off-cycle math textbooks were most recently adopted in 2013, followed by a full ELA adoption in 2015.
|Online, On-Demand Instructional Materials|
|The department provided the Teacher Resources for Educational Excellence (TREE, formerly Teach21) and West Virginia Next Generation Open Educational Resources repositories, which included model lesson plans, unit plans and digital learning tools. Educators could use the items to inform their planning.||The department used its rubrics for textbooks, called criteria for adoption.||The department collaborated with educators and West Virginia University to develop and review items using a peer-review process designed by nationally recognized education experts Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins. Items were developed and reviewed in 2012-13. In 2016, the department reviewed existing items and developed new items for the TREE website.|
Did the department provide guidance, instructional materials, professional learning and technical assistance to build local knowledge and skills, and support educator use of aligned materials?
West Virginia provided essential leadership and support in this area.
The department provided several types of guidance and instructional materials for on-demand access by educators. The department offered notable professional learning and technical assistance services. Examples of the department’s efforts include the following.
Guidance could include information about the standards and aligned teaching strategies, rubrics for gauging alignment of instructional materials, templates for designing aligned instruction, lists of adopted textbooks and online professional learning resources. West Virginia provided the following guidance documents.
- List of board-adopted textbooks
- Information for principals on implementing aligned curriculum and formative assessments
- TREE website offered access to online professional learning items
Instructional materials could include a variety of tools and resources that educators use to plan and deliver instruction, such as model lesson and unit plans, sample formative assessments, textbooks, student workbooks and manipulatives, recommended texts and videos, and multimedia learning tools. West Virginia provided the following types of instructional materials.
- TREE and West Virginia Next Generation Open Educational Resources collections of model lesson and unit plans, digital classroom activities and assessments, literacy materials for social studies and science, and links to a digital library of formative assessment items and tools
Professional Learning and Technical Assistance
- Monthly professional learning community (PLC) webinars for ELA, math, early literacy and STEM teachers on the standards, and state-provided instructional materials
- Professional learning and technical assistance for district leaders and regional centers, and PLCs for teachers at volunteer Catalyst Schools. These services built the capacity of participants to provide professional learning, align instructional materials and analyze student work. The department and the state’s RESAs worked with five Catalyst Schools in 2014-15, and 25 additional schools in 2015-16, with plans to expand to all 727 schools in the state in 2016-17.
- Professional learning for educators on LDC and MDC practices and tools, provided in partnership with SREB in 2014-15. The department reported plans to use the trained educators to help train teachers in all secondary schools in the state.
- Training for teachers in participating districts on SREB’s Literacy and Math Ready courses for 11th- and 12th-graders who were not yet college and career ready
- Two-year virtual academy for new special education teachers, and a seven-week course for general educators on the state’s English language proficiency standards to support differentiated instruction
Did the department regularly gather and use multiple types of data in order to continuously improve its leadership and support for the statewide alignment of instructional materials to college- and career-readiness standards?
West Virginia provided strong leadership and support in this area.
The department regularly gathered all five types of data that SREB deemed key for state leadership, including data on the impact of participation in state professional learning on teacher and student outcomes, and information on local curriculum alignment practices. Staff from across the agency and educators participated in analysis and discussion of the data. The department used the data in two ways to inform its work.
Table 2: Data the Department Gathered to Inform its Efforts
|Key types of data||Data sources|
Educator use of state guidance and instructional materials, and educator participation in the professional learning and technical assistance the department offered
|Educator perceptions of the quality of the state’s offerings||
Educator emerging needs
|Impact of state offerings on measurable teacher or student outcomes||
Local curriculum alignment practices
The department used this data to improve two of its supports for local instructional materials alignment:
- Guidance and instructional materials
- Professional learning and technical assistance services
The department established the following routines to analyze data, discuss findings and determine actions to address identified needs:
- The department’s offices of research and assessment regularly reported data and research findings to agency staff, the public and educators.
- The department’s content area offices regularly met with educators in the field.
As West Virginia strives to continuously improve, state leaders may wish to consider the following recommendations.
- Enhance efforts to establish clear and consistent conventions for identifying instructional materials. Develop criteria to guide the development and review of online instructional materials. Ensure that the criteria align to those in the department’s rubric for reviewing textbooks. Verify that the criteria fully reflect the content and rigor of the state’s standards—for example, by submitting the criteria to trusted, third-party experts for review, or basing them on nationally recognized tools. Use the criteria, in collaboration with educators, to develop and select online instructional materials at least annually, to provide educators with up-to-date items that they can access on demand to meet their needs. Clear, consistent, rigorous conventions will support the department’s efforts to provide educators with high-quality, current instructional tools for the West Virginia College- and Career-Readiness Standards, which educators began implementing in 2016-17. See strong state efforts to establish consistent and rigorous conventions described in the Florida, Louisiana, Maryland and North Carolina profiles.
- Enhance the department’s support for local efforts to align instructional materials.
- See efforts to provide extensive online, on-demand guidance and instructional materials noted in the Florida, Louisiana, Maryland and North Carolina profiles.
- See professional learning and technical assistance initiatives that were intensive, integrated and sustained and that involved large numbers of districts, schools or educators described in the Alabama, Louisiana and Kentucky profiles.
- Continue and enhance the state’s strong use of data to drive improvement. For example, consider greater coordination within the agency and with partners such as the state’s RESAs, to gather and use data to support the statewide alignment of instructional materials. Build on the state’s evaluations of the Catalyst Schools and MDC initiatives to examine how educator use of other types of state materials and services impacts educator practice and student learning. See descriptions of other strong state efforts to use data for continuous improvement noted in the Arkansas, Delaware and Tennessee profiles.