Goal: By 2020, West Virginia ranks first in the United States for reading and math scores of grade 4 and grade 8 students.

Vision Shared recently hosted a series of community forums aimed at gathering input from parents, educators, business, community, educational leaders and others interested in improving the performance of West Virginia students. The forums provided and opportunity to review the previously released audit of West Virginia's public education system conducted at the request of Governor Earl Ray Tomblin by the firm Public Works. Click here to learn more and review findings.

Committee chairman: L. Newton Thomas and Lloyd Jackson

Start-Up Activities

  • Meet with state education leaders to discuss aligning the state’s educational standards to meet the Vision Shared goals, i.e. establish a partnership with the Dept. of Education/Board of Education to increase their standards. Include union leaders, parents, students, legislative education leaders, Higher Education Policy Commission, Council for Community and Technical Colleges, Education Alliance, etc.
  • Understand where we are and why (include vulnerabilities, health, etc., of parents and kids); determine reasons we are behind.
  • Ask for representation of all stakeholders/players to participate in committee, from students to policymakers.
  • Develop a system that supports social needs of children and their educational needs.
  • Look at international success models/global leaders.
  • Bring in leaders from successful models or send us there.

Action Steps for the Remainder of Year 1

  • Collaborate with the new Early Childhood Advisory Council (formerly PIECES)
  • Embark on a media campaign to persuade the public that:
    1. the education system in West Virginia and the United States is in crisis;
    2. failure is not an option;
    3. West Virginians must develop, for the sake of their children, a self-expectation of becoming educated AND being able to work.
  • Coordinate the media campaign with local sessions built on public and private local partnerships.
  • Abandon a one-size-fits-all policy – look at other indicators of success in schools rather than just test scores.
  • Read research and recommendations that already exist.

Action Steps for Years 2-3

  • Increase funding for education programs.
  • Develop a marketing campaign to promote and encourage higher educational attainment (to overcome cultural/family challenges to becoming educated or combat the argument, “If you become educated, you’ll leave us.”
  • Re-examine the Vision Shared goal language for education to see whether it remains the right goal.
  • Develop and fund early childhood programs to help them success in school/life.
  • Examine year-round schools or charter schools.
  • Take a holistic look at solving education problems (social issues), such as the Geoffrey Canada model.
  • Focus on promoting the school as the community center.

For more information about Vision Shared's Workforce Development efforts, please email

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