Senate Bill No. 37
(By Senators Plymale, Jenkins and Stollings)
[Introduced February 13, 2013; referred to the Committee on
Education; and then to the Committee on Finance.]
A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by
adding thereto two new sections, designated §18-2-39 and §18-
2-40, all relating to improving public education results;
requiring the state board to promulgate a rule establishing a
high-quality digital learning program; specifying ten elements
the program must encompass which are elements pertaining to
student eligibility, student access, personalized learning,
advancement, content, instruction, digital learning providers,
assessment and accountability, funding and delivery;
recognizing the State Board of Education's Global 21 Middle
School initiative including its goals, objectives and process;
recognizing that the State Board of Education is seeking state
funding for the implementation of the initiative; and
requiring State Board of Education to report to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability
at certain intervals on the implementation of the initiative
until fully implemented.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended
by adding thereto two new sections, designated §18-2-39 and §18-2-
40, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 2. STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION.
§18-2-39. State board to establish high-quality digital learning
(a) The Legislature finds that:
(1) As technology becomes an increasingly integral part of our
society, it has become imperative for West Virginia's students to
have digital media incorporated into their learning curriculums.
Many students use digital media in every aspect of their lives
outside of school yet our approach to learning is roughly the same
as it was fifty years ago. In order to keep students engaged, we
must present information using a format they are familiar with,
such as digital learning;
(2) The traditional approach to learning is resulting in a
great number of West Virginia students dropping out of high school
or graduating unprepared for college or the workforce. This is
evidenced by the high number of students who enter college needing to take developmental courses;
(3) Finding resources to improve the education system is never
easy. However, a high-quality education system should be viewed as
an investment in the future economy that has a high rate of return.
This return is a skilled workforce to fill high-wage jobs which is
a valuable resource for the state;
(4) Former Governor of West Virginia, Bob Wise, and former
Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, created the Digital Learning Council
to identify policies that would integrate current and future
technological innovations into public education. The council
included more than one hundred leaders from education, government,
philanthropy, business, technology and think tanks. The council
identified ten elements of high-quality digital learning; and
(5) Digital learning can customize and personalize education
allowing students to learn in their own style and at their own
pace. Digital learning breaks down geographic barriers allowing
every student to enroll in courses they would not otherwise have
access to. Students in the most remote areas can enroll in high-
quality college-prep and career-prep courses taught by a highly
qualified teacher through multiple access points.
(b) The provisions of this section are subject to
appropriation by the Legislature and subject to the provision of
adequate professional development for teachers.
(c) The state board shall promulgate a rule in accordance with
article three-b, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code establishing a
high-quality digital learning program in accordance with this
section. The program shall encompass the following ten elements:
(1) Student eligibility: All students are digital learners.
The West Virginia Department of Education shall ensure access to
high quality digital content and on-line courses for all students
enrolled in kindergarten through grade twelve at any time in their
academic career and also to all who are not enrolled in a public
school in grades kindergarten through twelve but are eligible for
(2) Student access: All students have access to high-quality
digital content and on-line courses.
(A) The West Virginia Department of Education may only limit
access to high-quality digital learning based on capacity. Nothing
may restrict access to high-quality digital content and on-line
courses based on arbitrary class-size ratios, arbitrary caps on
enrollment, arbitrary caps on budget or geography.
(B) The West Virginia Department of Education shall require
students to take high-quality on-line college-preparation or
career-preparation courses as a condition to earning a high school
(3) Personalized learning: All students can customize their education using digital content through an approved digital
(A) Students may take on-line classes full-time, part-time or
by individual course.
(B) Students may enroll with multiple digital learning
providers and blend online courses with on-site learning.
(C) Students may enroll year round.
(D) Students may earn an unlimited number of credits on-line.
(E) Students may experience hybrid learning which means that
they may learn in an on-line or computer-based environment part of
the day and in a traditional classroom, even one-on-one tutoring
for part of the day.
(4) Advancement: Students progress based on demonstrated
(A) Advancement shall be based on demonstrated competency and
not on seat-time requirements.
(B) Students shall demonstrate competencies when they are
ready to complete the course or unit.
(5) Content: Digital content, instructional materials and on-
line and blended learning courses are high quality. Digital
content and on-line and blended learning courses shall be aligned
with state standards or internationally benchmarked standards where
(6) Instruction: Digital instruction and teachers are high
(A) The state board shall develop and provide alternative
certification routes including on-line instruction and performance-
based certification. The state board shall make any
recommendations to the Legislature that it determines necessary in
order to provide the alternative certification routes.
(B) An on-line teacher from any state shall meet the Essential
Principles of High Quality Online Teaching developed by the
Southern Regional Education Board.
(C) The state board shall maximize the use of digital
instruction to allow one digital educator to provide instruction
across the state and nation.
(D) Teacher preparation programs are encouraged to offer
targeted digital instruction training and shall adopt digital
instruction training in all teacher preparation programs by the
2014-2015 school year.
(E) A teacher may not teach an on-line or blended learning
course unless that teacher has had professional development or
training to use the technology for teaching an on-line or blended
(7) Digital learning providers: All students have access to
multiple high-quality digital learning providers.
(A) The West Virginia Department of Education shall create an
open, transparent and expeditious approval process for digital
learning providers. In addition to the new process, the already
established instructional materials adoption process or the West
Virginia Virtual School evaluation process for content providers
may be used. Since there is a rigorous evaluation component for
content alignment to state standards, all three methods are exempt
from the procurement requirements set forth in chapter five-a of
this code to meet the critical time lines of providing content to
students and teachers when needed.
(B) Students shall have access to multiple approved digital
learning providers including public, private and nonprofit and all
are treated equally.
(C) All students shall have access to all approved digital
(D) The state board may not require that digital learning
providers be located in this state nor may the state board create
any administrative requirements that would unnecessarily limit
participation of high-quality providers.
(E) The state board shall ensure that easy-to-understand
information about digital learning, including information about
programs, content, courses, tutors and other digital resources, is
provided to students.
(8) Assessment and accountability: Student learning is one
method of evaluating the quality of content and instruction.
(A) The state board shall provide for the administration of
assessments digitally and shall create a digital formative
(B) The state board shall evaluate the quality of content and
courses predominately based on student learning data and shall
terminate the contracts of digital learning providers and programs
that do not achieve an acceptable level of student learning as
defined by the state board in the rule required by this section.
(C) The state board shall evaluate the effectiveness of
teachers based partly on student learning data.
(D) The state board shall hold digital learning providers,
facilitators and students accountable for achievement and growth.
(9) Funding: Funding creates incentives for performance,
options and innovation.
(A) The state board shall develop a funding model that pays
digital learning providers in installments that incentivize
completion and achievement.
(B) Digital content may be acquired through funding for
instructional resources. The state board shall ensure that
instructional resources adoption practices do not discourage
digital content. If the state board finds that any part of this code related to instructional resources adoption discourages
digital content, the state board shall make a recommendation to the
Legislature for amending this code.
(C) The state board shall ensure that state funding allows for
customization of education including choice of digital learning
providers. If the state board finds that any part of this code
inhibits customization of education, the state board shall make a
recommendation to the Legislature for amending this code.
(10) Delivery: Infrastructure supports digital learning.
(A) The state board shall ensure that textbooks are being
replaced, when appropriate, with digital content, including
interactive and adaptive multimedia. The state board shall develop
a plan for accomplishing this and report the plan to the
Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability before
December 1, 2013.
(B) The state board shall work with the Legislature and other
entities to ensure that Internet access is available for learning
for public school teachers and students.
(C) The state board shall work with the Legislature and other
entities to ensure that all public school students and teachers
have Internet access devices for learning.
(D) The state board shall maximize purchasing power to
negotiate lower cost licenses and contracts for digital content and online courses.
(E) The state board shall ensure that local and state data
systems and related applications are updated and robust to inform
longitudinal management decisions, accountability and instruction.
§18-2-40. Global 21 Middle School.
(a) The Legislature finds that:
(1) West Virginia students continue to face an achievement gap
between themselves and students in other states and
internationally, beginning, in many cases, in middle school. For
example, according to the National Assessment of Educational
Progress (NAEP) report, "The Nation's Report Card: Science 2009,"
West Virginia students' scores are consistent with the national
average in fourth grade but have dropped into the lower fifteen
states by eighth grade. It is crucial that we find innovative ways
of keeping our middle school students engaged in learning, both to
increase student achievement and to lower high school drop out
rates. One approach to accomplishing these goals is through the
implementation of digital learning in conjunction with career and
(2) Career and technical education is closely tied to
successful workforce development in West Virginia. According to
the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, by
2018, forty-nine percent of all jobs in West Virginia will require some education beyond high school in order to maintain our current
economic productivity. Of those jobs, fifty-eight percent will be
filled by those with certificates or associate's degree. Meeting
this goal necessitates a successful partnership between public and
higher education in order to enhance college and career readiness;
(3) Blending academics and career and technical education can
raise graduation rates and achievement according to the Southern
Regional Education Board. Combining core learning principles with
applied career technical learning experiences and delivering them
through digital learning media should serve that purpose while also
adhering to the high-quality digital learning elements set forth in
section thirty-eight of this article;
(4) The state board has developed and is seeking funding to
implement an initiative entitled "Global 21 Middle School". The
goals identified for this program are to:
(A) Increase student achievement in all core subject areas in
order to enhance career and college readiness; and
(B) Increase student "informed" decisions and establishment of
realistic career goals;
(5) The state board also has identified objectives for the
initiative. These include:
(A) Authentic, real-world application modules that enhance
career readiness in the core curriculum;
(B) Increase in the amount of time for students to acquire
fundamental skills through access to academic and career resources
twenty-four hours per day and seven days per week;
(C) Engagement of all students in their own learning process
and the documentation of their progression;
(D) Documentation of student mastery and progress through an
individual digital student profile system;
(E) Preparation of all students to make informed decisions and
set realistic career goals as reflected in an Individual Student
Transition Plan that leads to a positive post-secondary outcome;
(F) Increase in successful career and technical education
participation, insuring every student has an "informed
(G) Connection of students to post-secondary pathways
including both community and technical and four-year colleges;
(6) The process identified by the state board to accomplish
the stated goals and objectives includes the following:
(A) Create a functional, digital platform to support the
content delivery and documentation of individual student learning.
This platform validates the student's acquisition of designated
skill sets; provides the student with an individualized portfolio;
and provides parents, students and teachers the ability to quickly
assess the students position on the learning ladder;
(B) Design and/or procure engaging and relevant middle school
career-focused modules that enhance rigorous core courses through
an experiential project-based curriculum, and transform students'
core courses to have a career focus and a hands-on project-based
(C) Provide students with learning opportunities twenty-four
hours per day and seven days per week through equity of access to
(D) Connect with community and technical colleges by:
(i) Developing career and technical education and community
and technical college concentrations at the secondary level. These
concentrations would be designed so that students could graduate
with an associate degree along with a high school diploma or a
shortened degree granting period;
(ii) Requiring all students to engage in a capstone project in
the eighth grade that would gather evidence that the student is
prepared to be successful in high school;
(iii) Establishing mentoring relationships with community and
technical colleges that would allow community and technical
colleges to appoint student and/or faculty members to serve as
(E) Establish a memorandum of understanding with each county
and school to implement all elements of Global 21 Middle School and establish defined supports. This memorandum of understanding would
include the provision of adult mentors for students; working with
the community to enrich student success such as through tutoring;
the inclusion of physical education, health, wellness, the arts and
world language in the curriculum; and a positive behavior
(7) The state board is seeking state funding for the
implementation of this Global 21 Middle School initiative. This
includes funding for the development of a digital platform for all
middle schools. Additionally, funding is being sought to pilot
schools who sign the memorandum of understanding to implement
additional career modules and to be evaluated.
(b) The state board shall report to the Legislative Oversight
Commission on Education Accountability once every month that the
commission meets on the implementation of this Global 21 Middle
School initiative until the initiative is fully implemented.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to improve public education
by requiring the State Board of Education to promulgate rules for
the development and implementation of digital learning programs
throughout the state and by acknowledging and monitoring, through
Legislative Oversight, the implementation of the State Board of
Education's Global 21 Middle School initiative.
§18-2-39 and §18-2-40 are new; therefore, strike-throughs and
underscoring have been omitted.