CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Board of Education approved a policy Thursday aimed at making it simpler for those with the required education and experience to become teachers.

The board passed revisions to Policy 5202 that “are intended to provide additional flexibility for the licensure of aspiring educators. Requirements have not changed, but have been expanded and provide additional options to meet existing requirements.”

For example, some aspiring educators won’t have to take all of the pre-certification Praxis tests, Assistant State Superintendent Michele Blatt told the board.

“If we have individuals who hold a master’s (degree) and five years of work experience or a doctorate in a true content area such as English or Math then they would have to take our Praxis core (test) but they wouldn’t have to take the Math content Praxis if they have that Math master’s degree,” Blatt told board members.

The policy revisions went through two different public comment periods after some stakeholders, including the West Virginia Education Association, expressed concern about an earlier proposed revision which would allowed some with an undergraduate degree to skip the Praxis.

WVEA President Dale Lee told MetroNews Thursday the earlier concerns had been addressed.

Blatt indicated the policy would continue to have revisions to help attract more qualified teachers from different backgrounds.

“This is step-1 in increasing that flexibility,” she said. “We did need to get the policy approved and know that we will continue to work with the board and the stakeholders to increase the flexibility and the work to ensure that we get the quality and the number of teachers we need in our classrooms.”

The state school board also voted Thursday to put a few proposed policies out for 30-day comment periods including Policy 2460 that deals with use of the internet and related technologies along with cell phones and other devices.

The proposed policy mandates school districts to use the provisions of the policy as their Acceptable Use Policy but “may incorporate additional, more stringent guidelines closely aligned with local directives.”

State Board member Frank Vitale suggested the board should think about more stringent provisions.

“If we look at recent cases that we’ve heard about throughout the state of misconduct (between school personnel and students) most of that has been linked to electronic communication,” Vitale said. “For me, it’s up to other board members, but I really think we need to take a look at this and what is acceptable use going forward.”

Department of Education Attorney Heather Hutchens said it’s a fine line.

“It’s a very important issue but it’s also a complex issue because we want to be able to encourage all of the educational benefits that can come via use of technology while protecting students,” Hutchens said.

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