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The Future of Education — K-12 Challenge

With nearly one in every 18 West Virginia classrooms led by an individual who is not a certified teacher, there is a growing urgency to remedy the state’s teacher shortage through recruitment and retention efforts, particularly to fulfill high quality K-12 reading, math and science instruction.

The number of teacher vacancies in West Virginia more than doubled between 2013 and 2017. Moreover, there is a nationwide teacher shortage. And enrollment in teacher preparation programs fell 35 percent between 2009 and 2014, a decrease of close to 240,000 potential teachers. The need for trauma-informed pedagogy has also increased due to the mounting number of at-risk students facing mental health issues, the opioid crisis, and economic hardships.

Regrettably, these challenges are exacerbated in a post-pandemic world. Data shows the pandemic has widened preexisting opportunity and achievement gaps, hitting historically disadvantaged students hardest. Following national trends, West Virginia proficiency rates have dropped in reading, math and science compared to pre-pandemic achievement scores. And students continue to feel the tangible and emotional impacts of digital learning.

The future of K12 education in a post-COVID West Virginia rests in the hands of innovators, forward-thinkers, and leaders like you. Your team challenge is to consider lessons learned from transformations in education during the pandemic and how we can turn challenges into opportunities. Most importantly, consider how we can make greater inroads to reimage, restructure and reinvest in the state’s education system to help each and every West Virginia student reach their full promise and potential.

Key Questions

  • The stress of teaching during the pandemic has exasperated an already serious teacher shortage, and the impact on the teacher pipeline is evident. What measures can we take to reverse this shortage? How do we attract young people to work and stay in WV?
  • How do we prepare nontraditional teachers to be effective instructors, experts in their discipline and in pedagogy?
  • How do we revamp teacher education to prepare future teachers to teach new skills relevant to a changing world and workforce?
  • What technology-based innovations and skillsets will help us prepare students to meet future workforce demands?
  • During the pandemic, virtual learning and remote work became predominate. How should K12 prepare students to flourish in this environment in their schooling and work environment?
  • How can we reverse the significant decline in the number of students preparing for higher education and the decreasing numbers of students returning to school due to dropout in households suffering economic downturn?