Story by David Beard, The Dominion Post
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Four education bills were among the long lists passed out of the House and Senate on Tuesday, including yet another version of a bill to promote literacy and numeracy – math literacy – in the early grades.
HB 3035 aims to create a “multi-tiered system of support intervention for grade level literacy and numeracy by the end of the third grade.” As introduced it was similar to but less expansive than the Senate’s Third Grade Success Act, SB 274. In committee it got pared down to just a Grow Your Own West Virginia Pathway to Teaching Pilot Program.
An important part of the bill will be the employment of ECCATs — early childhood classroom assistant teachers – in K-3 classrooms starting July 1, 2026.
But on the House floor on Monday, it got beefed back up to again closely resemble SB 274, which is still sitting in House Education while this one heads to the Senate.
It’s built on the understanding that “students who do not demonstrate grade-level proficiency in reading and mathematics by the end of third grade become increasingly less likely to succeed at each successive grade level and often drop out of school prior to graduation.”
It requires the teaching methods and materials based on the science of reading instruction, screening assessments in grades K-2 and benchmark assessments in grade 3. It calls for intensive instruction and intervention and a personalized learning plan for kids with deficiencies. Starting July 1, 2026, third graders who don’t show grade-level proficiency can be held back.
And it has the Grow Your Own West Virginia Pathway to Teaching Pilot Program: a three-year pilot program to provide a career path for those interested in education careers, starting from high school through a post-secondary degree. It will offer a dual-credit path to obtain an education degree after three years at an eligible institution, plus apprenticeship opportunities in the field and a classroom residency during the last year of instruction.
Delegate Elliot Pritt, D-Fayette, objected to a provision that allows a parent or guardian to insist on their child’s promotion to fourth grade despite lack of proficiency, and encourages – rather than requires – a child to attend an extended year program prior to advancing to fourth grade.
“Most of the stuff in this bill is great, but that one word gives me pause,” he said.
The vote was 71-20, with nine Republicans joining the 11 Democrats present to vote against it.
HB 3084 updates various provisions of charter school code. It makes charter schools eligible for School Safety Fund money. It allows a higher education institution to apply organize a charter school and enter into a charter school contract.
If a charter school wishes to offer a dual-credit program, its higher education partners may not pose requirements that are not required of non-charters. Charter school students may participate in public school extracurricular activities at other public schools if their school doesn’t offer them.
Charter schools may determine their own staff qualification and certification requirements. The per-pupil basic foundation allowance will go from 90% to 99%, and include state, federal and local share funds. The home county board will keep the remaining 1% for administrative expenses.
The vote was 65-24, with 16 Republicans and eight Democrats voting no. It goes to the Senate.
HB 3224 makes West Virginia Junior College eligible to accept PROMISE scholars. It passed unanimously and goes to the Senate.
SB 422 passed the Senate unanimously and goes to the House. It came from the governor and would require each school to publish its up-to-date, county-adopted curriculum on the school’s publicly accessible website, or on the county’s if the school doesn’t have one. New or revised curriculum would have to be posted within 30 days of adoption.
Other bill action
SB 547 enhances the penalties for possession, sale and transport of several drugs: heroin, cocaine, LSD, methamphetamine and fentanyl. Judiciary chair Charles Trump, R-Morgan, said one of the reasons for the bill is to raise the crimes from misdemeanors to felonies and move the cases from magistrate to circuit court where more resources and treatment options are available – such a drug court and supervised probation. The vote was 32-1and it goes to the House.
In the House, HB 2814 creates a Hydrogen Power Task Force to study hydrogen energy and its role in the state’s economy. The task force would report to the Legislature by July 1, 2024. The vote was 87-12, with all the votes against from Republicans. It goes to the Senate.