February 10, 2021

Charleston, W.Va. – Today, the West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) and Department of Education (WVDE) entered into the West Virginia Public Education Equity Partnership with the Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs (HHOMA) establishing a joint commitment to improve equity structures in public schools throughout the state. The partnership will explore disparities in student achievement and enlist community support to address them alongside members of the education community.

As part of the formal announcement, the WVBE, WVDE and HHOMA will focus on data evidence surrounding student achievement and the ways in which inequities in school culture and climate may contribute to them. The mission of the equity partnership is rooted in the belief that race, ethnicity, economic circumstances, primary language, and special needs do not predict academic success, but rather a culturally responsive staff and effective use of research-based strategies provide the ability to close gaps in student outcomes.

Among the top priorities State Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch identified last year when he assumed his current role, was the achievement of all students and addressing disparities revealed by data. While the pandemic has required the complete attention of the education community during the past 12 months, issues of equity remain and were, in many circumstances, further exposed. WVBE President Miller Hall and Superintendent Burch have continued to focus on the issues central to the work of the Equity Partnership.

“We have a duty and responsibility to all students to provide an education that meets the needs of the whole child,” said Superintendent Burch. “This is not possible when the data tells us segments of our student population are suffering disparities that directly affect their ability to achieve. Together, we must identify root causes and address these issues so that our children not only learn, but also flourish. We realize the challenges range from racial and socio-economic to special needs and cultural disparities and beyond. We want an education system that is responsive to the needs of all students.”

President Hall welcomes the partnership with HHOMA Executive Director Jill Upson and the perspective she and her organization bring to the process.

“Executive Director Upson has readily stepped up to participate in this partnership. She and her council understand the urgency of addressing these issues and the true collaborative spirit required to move forward,” President Hall said. “We believe all educators share the vision of student well-being and achievement and working with members of the community will assist in our understanding of the complexities involved.”

“The members of the HHOMA Advisory Council are vested members of the community who are dedicated to the process and promise of student achievement,” said Executive Director Upson. “We understand the critical role education plays, not only in the lives of our children and families, but in the progress of our communities and state. The opportunity to partner with our state and local education leaders will allow us to effectively address the challenges presented by the data.”

The partnership will create approaches and processes to review data and establish working relationships to promote student achievement. Training, research and technical support are among the resources provided at the state level to assist the work at the local level.

“These issues will require our diligence, commitment and consistent focus, and that is what the partnership will provide,” Hall said.

To view the partnership agreement, click here.

For more information, contact Christy Day at the West Virginia Department of Education Office of Communications at 304-558-2699 or Christy.Day@k12.wv.us.

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